According to numerous sources - most recently a SQL Server Magazine article entitled Too Soon for SQL Server 2008? Readers Say "Yes!" - a lot of SQL Server customers are holding off upgrading to SQL Server 2005, preferring to wait for the upcoming release of SQL Server 2008. While I understand the economics, I worry about the DBAs and database developers in the trenches.
Personally, I prefer to learn new technology while it's still, well, new. That makes me an early adopter. In my opinion, it also flattens the learning curve somewhat.
One the other hand, as new technology is put into play by early adopters bugs and enhancements are found and suggested - maturing the technology and making it easier to learn. Encountering fewer upgrade and translation issues flattens the learning curve too. So perhaps skipping a version isn't such a big deal after all.
One thing to consider: Microsoft is unlikely to return to 5-year release cycles for server products. So how do we make upgrading less painful / expensive / painful? (...not a typo...)
One suggestion is to add regression tests to your Disaster Recovery plan. You have regression testing in place already if you have a DR plan. It may consist of throw the thrid switch and monitor the error email account. This is an EMP (Expensive Management Practice) and there are much better ways to manage regression tests as we draw near the close of 2007.
I predict Test Automation will be a hot topic next year as more folks dig into the features of Team Foundation Server 2008. The powerful idea behind automated regression tests is very simple: Create a suite of tests and you can run them forever (for free, even!). Regression tests are money in the bank - you write them once and run them every time you release a (hopefully) backwards-compatible version. The test suite grows over time as more bugs are discovered, but the SOBER (Same Old Bugs Every Release) spectre passes into memory of days gone by. And you get the added benefits of improved quality and reduced time to market - what's not to love about regression tests?
If you don't have regression tests in place, start saving your troubleshooting queries and utility applications in a central location - build a repository starting today. When the next new version of SQL Server is released (circa 2011), your applications will be much more agile and able to make the leap. Then you won't be painted into the corner of "not having enough time to test" the impact of the new functionality and changes to existing functionality - you will be able to know where you stand.
How much is the option of upgrading worth to your company?
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