SQL Server 2008 Beta Exams

Microsoft recently announced two Beta exams for SQL Server 2008 DBAs and developers. Interested candidates can register with their local Prometric centers (Outside US and Canada, you can register through the Prometric website) and take these exams for free, yes, FREE! Note that the results for these exams are not available immediately after you write the exam, you hvae to wait several weeks after the exams are publicly available (These exams will be publicly available later this year in November time frame). The two exams you may wish to attempt are -

Exam 71-450: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 : Designing, Optimizing, and Maintaining a Database Administrative Solution

This exam will be available later this year as 70-450. Passing the exam will count towards a credit for Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Database Administrator 2008 certification [Note that you need to pass Exam 70-432: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance in order to obtain this certification]. The official study guide for this Beta exam is available here. To register for this exam, use the promotional code 239F4. Registration for this exam will be available from August 15 until 24 hours before the exam period ends on September 16.

Exam 71-452: Designing a Business Intelligence Infrastructure Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008

This exam will be available later this year as 70-452. Passing the exam will count towards a credit for Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Business Intelligence Developer 2008 certification [Note that you need to pass Exam 70-448: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance in order to obtain this certification]. The official study guide for this Beta exam is available here. To register for this exam, use the promotional code 3568C. Registration for this exam is currently open, and will be available up to 24 hours before the exam period ends on September 10.

How do I prepare for these exams?

There are no preparation guides or resources available at the moment for us to refer and prepare for the exams. The lack of resources actually adds to the excitement of doing the exam! Earlier this year, I passed the Beta version of Exam 70-504 : Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 : Windows Workflow Foundation Application Development. Other than the official study guide, there were no training resources available to prepare for the exams. I used the Visual Studio 2008 training kit, worked through the samples and hands-on labs, did a number of virtual labs, viewed a number of webcasts and read through several dozen blog posts! Once I felt I was ready to look at a book for more in-depth knowledge while I was developing couple of applications using WF for practice, I used Microsoft Windows Workflow Foundation Step By Step By Kenn Scribner and Pro WF: Windows Workflow in .NET 3.0 by Bruce Bukovics as references. The preparation strategy worked out well and I passed the Beta exam.

To prepare for the SQL Server 2008 Beta exams, it is perhaps beneficial to start with the available SQL Server 2005 books. A book like Pro SQL Server 2005 Database Design and Optimization by Louis Davidson et. al. lays the foundation well. Add a good reference book on the track you are willing to pursue after you have worked your way through one book. Follow this up with the SQL Server 2008 Virtual Labs, some demos and videos, SQL Server 2008 Books Online & the SQL Server Developer Center for downloads and other resources.

Update [29 August 2008]

While trawling the web for some SQL Server 2008 resources, I found a few links that I would like to share -

Note/Disclaimer: My suggestions above do not gurantee success! They are simple guidelines and thoughts that I have shared and could possibly help you in achieving success. Good Luck!

Visual Studio 2008 SP1 & SQL Server 2008 released

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced the RTM of Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 & SQL Server 2008. These are available for MSDN subscribers for download. SQL Server 2008 evaluation versions are available for a 180 day trial (The SQL Express Edition is freely available for download). Service pack 1 for Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET framework 3.5 is available here.

Some caution while installing the Visual Studio 2008 SP1 if you had the SP1 Beta installed. A cleanup utility is available here which removes any Visual Studio KBs installed. The readme file has some detailed information about installing the service pack.

So, whats new in these releases?

SQL Server 2008 adds enhancements to the database engine, new T-SQL programmability features, enhancements to Integration Services, Reporting & Analysis services have been rewritten & no longer require IIS, Powershell is now integrated and entirely new management feature [Performance Studio] has been added to monitor speed and efficiency of databases. Microsoft has also announced the availability of Beta exams on SQL Server 2008 (I’ll post about these exams later).

The Visual Studio & .NET framework service packs contain a number of enhancements targeted for developers, improving the productivity while using Visual Studio as well as ehancing several existing features in ASP.NET, WPF, and other technologies. Visual Studio (with SP1) now has better javascript intellisense support, support for classic ASP intellisense & support for refactoring WCF services in ASP.NET projects. ASP.NET enhancements include dynamic data, URL routing engine (used for MVC and dynamic data support) & AJAX script combining (asp:ScriptManager can now be configured to combin all the configured scripts & sent to the client as a single script). Several new windows forms controls including vector shapes and a datarepeater have been added. Windows Presentation Foundation has had several improvements and enhancements, detailed discussion of them should perhaps form the content of different post. Most notable amongst the WPF improvements include performance and data improvements (20-45% without any code changes – that’s very encouraging!), addition of shader effects, DirectX Interop [Dr. WPF has an article on Codeproject on this], etc. Visual Studio now supports navigation to definition of items declared in XAML.

.NET Framework 3.5 Enhancements Training Kit

The .NET framework 3.5 enhancements training kit contains material to help you understand and explore the new enhancements. This kit is available for download here. The kit is an enhacement to the very useful Visual Studio 2008 training kit.

I am excited like any other .NET developer about the release! I look forward to exploring the feature improvements and enhancements and blog about any interesting bits that I find useful to share.