A Look Back

It's almost hard to believe I've been your columnist for Microsoft SQL Server topics for more than 5 years! As an analyst of Microsoft SQL Server, as well as one who's interested in the whole spectrum of database systems, I've tried to provide insight for the questions of "how" and "why" Microsoft has made the choices it has in crafting SQL Server. After all, understanding the context and motivation for a particular set of features-or a particular marketing strategy-can help you fully understand the best choices for your own internal IT strategies and projects.

As I look back over these 5 years, I have a lot of fond memories and favorite columns. In the 2005 article, "Business Intelligence in SQL Server 2005," I highlighted how Microsoft was moving strongly into the BI space and eventually would hold a dominant position there. As an extension of that theme, I would point out that the SQL Server 2008 R2 release was almost entirely about extending BI features.

Back in 2006, I noted in the article, "Glastnost," that Microsoft had taken hold of the openness that comes with blogging, and that such openness offered remarkable benefits to SQL Server and its users because it allowed them to communicate directly with the blogger-developers responsible for specific areas of the DBMS. Today, there are more than 300 official Microsoft dev team blogs and, with the advent of Microsoft Connect, direct means of reporting bugs and asking for feature improvements. Openness is transcending the Microsoft culture in a very positive way.

2007 saw the introduction of Community Technology Preview (CTP), a new way for Microsoft to introduce beta products, which I described in the article, "Building Better Betas." What started as an idea to deliver better betas to the user community now has grown into Microsoft's primary, iterative approach to betas. This helps us do better testing of our own SQL Server applications, and provide improved feedback on pre-release software.

I've had many other favorite articles over the years, and I hope you've also had a favorite or two. Above all else, I hoped to provide insight, intelligence, and perceptive commentary in this column, but the time has come for me to step aside and introduce you to someone new-Iain Kick.

Iain is a lead consultant in Quest Software's SQL Server business unit, following many years as a production DBA for large enterprises in the UK Midlands. Iain and I have worked side-by-side at Quest Software for many years. Iain speaks with SQL Server customers on a daily basis, and his experience not only spans the breadth of SQL Server, it includes performance tuning, hardware configuration, security, disaster recovery, and high availability, as well.

Iain lives in Reading, Berkshire, best known for its annual music festival (the savior of his teenage years), a football team (not soccer) most of the north of England had barely heard of until a few years ago, and the 3Bs-Beer, Bulbs, and Biscuits (none of which are still made there). It's the birthplace of Ricky Gervais and Kate Winslet, both of whom left as soon as fame let them loose on the world. Reading also happens to be home to large European offices for the likes of Microsoft, Oracle, and HP.

A Fond Farewell

I will continue to write analysis articles on my personal website,, as well as speak online and at the big conferences. If you are interested in my thoughts, please take a moment to follow my tweets (, add my website to your favorites or RSS reader, and link to me on your favorite social networking site. I'm on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Plaxo.