Friday, August 29, 2008

SQL Server Express 2008 - 3 editions

There are three different version of SQL Server 2008 Express:

SQL Server 2008 Express
SQL Server 2008 Express with Tools
SQL Server 2008 Express with Advanced Services

What are the key differences? Which one should I download?

First let’s look at SQL Server 2008 Express and SQL Server 2008 Express with Tools – there is virtually no difference in functionality – the only difference is that the download package for the SQL Server Express 2008 with Tools includes a bare bones version of Management Studio to allow you to perform some admin functions from a nice interface. Well, there is one more little difference – SQL Server Express with Tools includes PowerShell Integration which otherwise would have to be installed separately. So which one should you download? Well, if you already have SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio) installed on your machine then there is no reason to download the SQL Server Express 2008 with Tools.

When it comes to SQL Server Express 2008 with Advanced Services things are different – there are a few critical (this is relative term – those are critical services if you need them) services included in this edition that you otherwise don’t get:
- Integrated Full Text Search
- Reporting Services (increase RS memory limit; RS Word/Rich Text Export; IIS agnostic report deployment; Enhanced gauges & Charting; Business Intelligence Developer Studio)

Also, the SQL Server 2008 Express with Advanced Services includes Synchronization Services which in the other two editions would require a separate installation.

So, if you need any of those advanced services your choice is clear – download the SQL Server Express with Advanced Services.

You can learn more about SQL Server 2008 Express and download your copy from Microsoft’s official site at:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

xSQL Profiler deployed in minutes

From all the comments we have received so far it appears that we have hit the mark with the “agent-less” feature of xSQL Profiler. Unlike many of the database monitoring / diagnosing tools that require the installation of service agents on the target servers and consequently require days to deploy, xSQL Profiler does not need any agents. The xSQL Profiler application and service are installed in minutes on a single machine from where you can define and schedule traces to run simultaneously on as many target servers as you need. The trace data from all servers are pulled automatically on predefined time intervals into the central repository. It can’t be simpler than that. And did we mention that it is completely free for up to two SQL Server instances? Go ahead, download your copy today and let your colleagues know.

PS not only can you trace SQL Server 2000, SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 but you can also trace SQL Server Express and MSDE instances.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Every 10 PCs migrated to Vista = one car off the road

“Every 10 PCs migrated to Windows Vista is equivalent to taking one car off the road in terms of greenhouse gasses” (Windows Vista Energy Conservation -

This got my attention fast – consider the number of PCs in use and just imagine the impact this could have! I decided to dig deeper and inform myself so that I could potentially become an advocate of this cause – after all I would much rather convert my PCs to Vista than give up driving my car to save the environment (well, as the melting of the arctic ice continues we may have to soon give up the car and much more but if there is anything that would help us postpone that I am all for it).

As I started reading the paper the first thing that struck me was the disclaimer section which in essence says “if you believe anything we say here don’t blame us it’s your own fault” – I found this a bit discouraging but given that nowadays everybody and their uncle seems to have some claim against Microsoft I thought that this was the prudent thing for them to do and continued reading the paper.

So, what did the paper tell me? It told me that yes, potentially, assuming your PC stays on for 24 hours with neither the monitor nor the PC ever being turned off or going to “sleep mode” then yes the energy savings you could realize by either turning the PC off for the 16 hours you don’t use it or by replacing the operating system with Windows Vista, which by default will make the PC go to sleep mode when not in use, are significant. Based on published and accepted averages the carbon dioxide (CO2) you would keep off the atmosphere is about 1,178 lb which is the equivalent of about 10% of the CO2 emitted by an average car on one year. So, yes with those calculations 10 PCs converted to Vista equal one average car off the road. But, is the scenario considered in these calculations realistic? Absolutely not! Even in enterprises where the employees maybe instructed to leave their machines on so that they are available for software installs, patching and remote access the monitors are likely set to go to sleep mode so that alone removes a good portion of the presumed savings. Furthermore, what’s really critical to remember is that Windows Vista may make realizing energy savings easier and more convenient but those potential savings are available and can be realized without having to upgrade to Windows Vista.

Please note that this is not a case against upgrading to Windows Vista – the reasons for upgrading are abundant in many scenarios – but it is rather taking aim at bold and not always well founded marketing claims.

Is this smart marketing? I would say yes, in a World that is becoming more and more aware of the environment a claim like this has a high chance of getting the attention of the potential customers – it certainly worked on me.

Does it work beyond getting attention? The answer to this is a bit more complicated. While it may sometimes backfire, often it works. Here is why. For a mid level manager that is trying to make the case for upgrading, such claims made by reputable companies are a huge help. These managers don’t need convincing for themselves - they may have a lot of other, well founded but hard to explain to upper management, reasons for upgrading; what they need is ammunition that will help make their case a simple no-brainer and such claims give them exactly that ammunition.

Is it ethical? If the claim was false then this wouldn’t be a question but it is not false. I think the ground is a bit shaky here and so is my answer. To be completely on the safe side the statements should highlight the average scenario instead of the extremes but I can't quite say it is unethical to highlight the extremes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

MCDBA with no experience OR 5 years of experience

If you had to choose between hiring an MCDBA who has very little real life DBA experience and someone who has 5 years of practical DBA experience but no certification which one would you go for?

Please submit your vote on the right hand panel here and if you wish explain your rational on a comment to this posting.

Please note that this is completely hypothetical – no one’s fate is being decided by your response here but it would be very interesting to see if there is an overwhelming opinion in favor of one or the other.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If you are a Microsoft MVP you can get it FREE

Yes, you heard it right – if you are a Microsoft MVP you can get any of our tools for free – simply send us a link to your MVP profile and let us know which products you are interested on (you can email us at sales[select char(64)]

Here are some simple rules:
- the complimentary licenses you receive are for your own personal use only (includes your own consulting practice).
- The offer is limited to a single user / single machine license for xSQL Object, xSQL Data Compare, xSQL Builder, xSQL Documenter.
- The offer is limited to a single installation and five SQL Server instances for xSQL Profiler and RSS Reporter.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A programmer who knows everything

I got this resume the other day – there was a big section that listed technologies that this guy seemingly had experience with, and the list was long… really long, C#, VB.NET, C++, WCF, WPF, WF, Visual FoxPro, PHP, SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, Access, T-SQL, PL/SQL, XML, UML, Erwin, Ajax, Flash, J2EE, Spring, Struts, JSP, JMS, JMX, LDAP, SSO, BEA ALUI etc., you name it. I had a hard time recalling any names or acronyms that were missing from his list and believe me, being a manager type, I know acronyms and names, it is my job to know those things exist and to have a good idea of what they are but would I ever dare to say I have experience on them? Absolutely not unless I would be stupid enough to think that having spent a couple of hours on something qualifies me to claim I have experience with it.

After I trashed his resume I started thinking and came to question my reasoning – maybe it is not this guy's fault, maybe it is the stupid recruiters and managers who often make the requirements section a laundry list of technologies and this person, like many others who are trying to find a job, is simply responding to this madness the best he can: by trying to cover all bases. Maybe this guy who has the courage to list everything is trying to convey the message: “I am a programmer. I can deal with any technologies you can through my way.” Or maybe his message is: “since you don’t really know what you are looking for I am as good as any other candidate out there”.

For the moment I don’t have an answer, just questions in my mind. However, one thing I know is that those type of job ads and resumes make for a very inefficient hiring process. When I am hiring a programmer I have two basic cases – case 1: my excellent resource planning provides me with sufficient time and money to find a great programmer and give him/her adequate time to catch up with the technologies he will need to use. If he is already experienced on those technologies all the better but that is not my main concern, my goal is to find the best programmer I can find with the particular technology being a distant second; case 2: due to my poor resource planning I need a programmer “yesterday” who must be productive on day one (like you know who… pun intended) – in this case, unfortunately I may have to sacrifice on the quality of the programmer and go for someone who has experience with the particular technology. So, the requirements section for the case one would focus on degrees, certifications and years of programming experience and I would simply indicate the technologies you are expected to work with. What I care about is that you are a great programmer and that you are willing to work with those technologies even if you have never worked on them before. Whereas the requirement section for case 2 would look something like: x years of hands on experience with C# and SQL Server. In other words just what I need you to work on the first day you come in the office. You may have a PhD in computer science but unfortunately it is not going to do me any good in the short term if you have never worked with C# and SQL Server.

I believe that a well written job ad that tells the potential candidates exactly what you are looking for will significantly reduce the amount of useless job applications while increasing the quality of the applications that come in. So, to all the recruiters and hiring managers out there – please take the time to write clear, concise, fluff-less job ads - you will be doing yourselves, and all those looking for a job, a big favor.

Finally, thanks for reading this and whether you agree with it or not, if you are a programmer and/or database administrator don't forget to check out our cool SQL Server tools at - almost all of them have a fully functional totally free version that never expires and never asks you to register or activate - just download and save yourself hours of otherwise tedious work.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SQL Server 2008 developed with the customer in mind!

“Microsoft developed this release of SQL Server with the customer in mind,” said Ted Kummert, corporate vice president of the Data and Storage Platform Division at Microsoft…

What a surprise! So, who did Microsoft have in mind when developing the other releases of SQL Server!?

We all misspeak at times but I find it very surprising (in a bad way that is) that a Microsoft corporate VP would do so on such a major occasion as the release of SQL Server 2008!