Microsoft Squeaks Out SQL Server 2008 Not a Moment Too Soon

Following a nearly six-month delay from its original target release date, Microsoft announced the release to manufacturing (RTM) of its SQL Server 2008 Wednesday. The software maker had initially planned to launch the database application in February, but in January said it would have to move the date back to the third quarter.

With the software’s code finalized and on its way to production, Microsoft is emphasizing that SQL Server 2008 will still arrive within three years of the release of the previous version, SQL Server 2005. The company had set its sights on putting out a new version within two to three years of that release.

Getting SQL Server 2008 out before the end of the summer was very important for Microsoft, said Noel Yuhanna, a Forrester Research analyst.

“Customers are wanting new features and functionality to support their growing business requirements. [Without the release], they can’t — or else they might move to, say, Oracle or IBM. Microsoft, with SQL Server 2008, is back on track with a 36-month release cycle, which is essential not only to retain customers, but to attract new customers and compete against other players,” he told TechNewsWorld.

With this release, Microsoft “has become a top threat for Oracle — who has been so far considered the leader in databases,” Yuhanna said.

Timely Release

Microsoft’s previous version, SQL Server 2005, was in the works for five years. The software had been tied to several other product releases. With the SQL Server 2008 release, the company has decoupled the dependencies with other product releases and even some key features, easing the impact of release dates. Top features can now be added in sub-releases, without affecting the overall major release, Yuhanna explained.

Getting the release out the door was also important in terms of Microsoft’s credibility, according to Chris Alliegro, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

“After the massive delays SQL Server 2005 had, Microsoft, and especially Ted Kummert (corporate vice president of Microsoft’s data and storage platform division), were pretty vocal that it wouldn’t happen again. Kummert had said that future releases would ship on a 24-to-36-month cycle, and end of summer is basically the outside limit of that window — I’m pretty sure he didn’t want to be made a liar in the first major release on his watch,” Alliegro told TechNewsWorld.

When it comes to Microsoft’s SQL Server customers, they would prefer to wait for a quality product than have Microsoft rush the software out the door.

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