SQL Server 2005 represents one of the most sweeping changes to the platform since Microsoft rewrote the engine from Sybase long ago. As with most Microsoft products, first attempts often turn into market standardsand that is definitely the case with this release.

So many things have changed from previous versions. If you just dive into the product after having used SQL Server for years, you will be able to find your way around, but you will miss the true power of new paradigms such as schema abstraction, nonmodal windows, a full management studio, and more. If you are completely new to the database administration world, you have a lot to learn.

This book is designed to aid the technical professional tasked with managing a SQL Server 2005 system. I have divided the chapters into concepts starting at the beginning (installation and configuration) all the way through to using the platform as a full-scale business intelligence landscape. In this version, Microsoft has it all.

If you need to learn to manage a system quickly, the chapters are laid out in a chronological order of what you need to understand first. I have included not only the technical information you need to set up and maintain a server (or set of servers), but also years of tricks and tips learned at the helm of several database environments. Using this information, you will be able to avoid some of the mistakes that only tend to show up after the system is in full use.

If you are already familiar with SQL Server in previous versions but need to come up to speed on the features and new paradigms, I have covered everything from Integration Services and business intelligence to all the things you need to know about upgrading your current servers.

Although the book is arranged chronologically, I have encapsulated each chapter as much as possible so that you can quickly locate what you are interested in. I present the material in a concept-to-practical use format, and you can follow along on a test system. I even show you how to set up a simple configuration of SQL Server 2005 for free (and legally)!

At the end of the day, database administrators are rated on what value they add to the organization. At the end of each chapter, I have included a section called "Take Away" that provides practical applications and examples from the chapter.

I hope you have as much fun reading this book as I had writing it. I kept you in mind the whole time.