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BARCELONA, Spain—Microsoft has released the third Community Technology Preview for SQL Server 2008, which includes new functionality and brings compatibility with Windows Vista and the upcoming Windows Server 2008.

“SQL Server 2008 running on Windows Server 2008 provides customers with trusted and secure access, high availability through revamped failover clustering, and simplified scripting through Powershell,” Francois Ajenstat, director of product management for SQL Server, told eWEEK here at the TechEd IT Forum conference, which starts Nov. 12.

This latest CTP, which Ajenstat likens to a traditional second beta, has a lot of substance and new features, he said, noting that the SQL team is targeting one more CTP prior to the product’s launch in late February 2008.

This latest update to the software also brings with it new features, such as a resource governor, which enables users to define resource limits and priorities for different workloads to ensure predictable performance, and backup compression, which requires less storage to keep backups online and which runs significantly faster since less disk I/O is required, he said.

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Another new feature, transparent data encryption, enables the encryption of an entire database, data files and log files without the need for application changes. “Encryption enables organizations to meet the demands of regulatory compliance and overall concern for data privacy,” Ajenstat said.

Also included are new cube design tools to help users streamline the development of the analysis infrastructure, enabling them to build solutions for optimized performance, while block computations help improve processing performance, allowing users to increase the depth of their hierarchies and complexity of the computations, he said.

The enhanced report designer includes new visualizations and integration with the 2007 Microsoft Office system.

This is also the first SQL 2008 CTP to help customers store and consume any type of data, including new Filestream data types for unstructured documents, and to support spatial data for location intelligence.

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“Filestream lets large binary data, traditionally managed by the database, get stored outside the database as individual files that can be accessed using an NTFS streaming API,” Ajenstat said.

The new SQL Server 2008 Filestream data type allows large binary data such as documents and images to get stored directly in an NTFS file system, where the document or image remains an integral part of the database and maintains transactional consistency, he said.

With this latest CTP, customers and partners can also consume, use and extend location-based data through spatial-enabled applications, and build location-aware applications using the new spatial data capabilities in SQL Server 2008, Ajenstat said.

“We created these new spatial features with partners in mind: building core capabilities into SQL Server to enable a broad range of solutions. Our approach is to broaden the use and applicability of spatial technology to a wide range of solutions, so anyone can benefit,” he said.

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There are more than 15 industry partners who have already announced their intention to ship applications to take advantage of the spatial data support in SQL Server 2008, including AWhere, Barrodale, ESRI, IntraGIS, I.S. Consulting, Manifold, Safe Software and SpatialPoint, Ajenstat said.

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