Getting Up-To-Speed on SQL Server 2012

By now, you’ve heard that Microsoft has publicly released SQL Server 2012.  I have to be honest in telling you that it came sooner than I expected, despite my many inside connections at Microsoft. I was fully expecting the RTM to occur a bit before summer, just in time for a spectacular launch at Microsoft TechEd. 

Getting the Latest Bits

Launch timing aside, SQL Server 2012 has released with a solid set of new features and improved technologies. 

You can download SQL Server 2012 at The full-featured, but time-limited, Evaluation version is available at In addition, you’ll definitely want to procure a copy of the SQL Server 2012 RTM Feature Pack at

The Feature Pack includes a variety of supplementary features and capabilities which are useful but not essential for every application. For example, the Feature Pack includes the Semantic Language Statistics Database, which is very useful if you use features such as Master Data Services (MDS) or Data Mining. But, it’s not really necessary if you are only using the standard relational database components of SQL Server. Another example of useful stuff in the Feature Pack is the Excel Add-in for Data Mining. 

True to its roots as the provider of powerful and free database management tools, Microsoft has also released a brand new IDE called the SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), a descendent of the excellent “Data Dude” Visual Studio add-ins ( SSDT is a free and separate download and can be used with SQL Server 2005 and later versions of the database. 

Getting the Latest Ebook

Surprise the hard-to-please DBA on your team with “Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2012,” a useful and informative ebook written by two personal friends, Ross Mistry and Stacia Misner, available at

Getting the Latest Learning and Content

Be sure to check out Microsoft’s VirtualAcademy and LearningCenter.  For example, the LearningCenter has real hands-on labs you can work through at

The VirtualAcademy has a plethora of recorded webcasts to watch, and detailed white papers that delve into specific feature sets. Get involved with the VirtualAcademy at

For example, if you’re mostly interested in the newest high-availability and recoverability features in SQL Server 2012, you’d want to check on this link from the VirtualAcademy:

And I’d be remiss in not mentioning all of the excellent streaming content available on Microsoft’s Channel 9 website. This video content features ample tagging for easy consumption through RSS feeds. I’m a big fan of RSS feeds, so I recommend that you check on Channel 9 here at Simply add the URL to your favorite RSS reader, such as Outlook, and you’ll get a steady stream of new information delivered piping hot to your door. Most every new feature within SQL Server 2012 has at least one podcast specific to the feature, and some features warrant multiple sessions. Topics on Channel 9 include:

• ADO.Net Code-Frst

• AlwaysOn Hgh-Aailability

• ColumnStore Indexes

• Data-Tier Apps (DACs)

• DAX Improvements

• Distributed Replay Testing

• Data Quality Services (DQS)

• FileTable Data Storage

• LocalDB

• MDS Improvements

• Partitioning Improvements

• Power View

• Server Roles

• Spatial Improvements

• SSAS Tabular Modeling

• SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT)

• SSIS Improvements

• SSRS Data Alerts

• StreamInsight Improvements

• T-SQL Improvements

• T-SQL paging and Windowing Functions

• XEvents Improvements

There’s plenty to keep you learning! Enjoy.