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Preplanning and Preparing a SQL Server 2008 Server Database Engine Installation

Before you begin the actual installation of SQL Server 2008 Database Engine, you must make several decisions concerning preliminary tasks. How well you plan these steps will determine how successful your installation is—as many of these decisions cannot be changed after the installation is complete.

Verifying Minimum Hardware Requirements

Whether you are installing SQL Server 2008 in a lab or production environment, you need to ensure that the hardware chosen meets the minimum system requirements. In most situations, the minimum hardware requirements presented will not suffice; therefore, Table 1.1 provides not only the minimum requirements, but also the recommended and optimal system requirements for the hardware components.

Table 1.1. SQL Server 2008 Processor and Memory System Requirements

SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition (64-bit) IA64


Minimum Requirements

Recommended Requirements



1.0GHz or higher: Itanium



2.048GB or above

SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition (64-bit) x64


Minimum Requirements

Recommended Requirements


1.4GHz: AMD Opteron, AMD Athlon, Intel Xeon EM64T, and Intel Pentium IV EM64T

2GHz or higher: AMD Opteron, AMD Athlon, Intel Xeon EM64T, and Intel Pentium IV EM64T



2.048GB or above

SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition (64-bit) x64


Minimum Requirements

Recommended Requirements


1.4GHz: AMD Opteron, AMD Athlon, Intel Xeon EM64T, and Intel Pentium IV EM64T

2GHz or higher: AMD Opteron, AMD Athlon, Intel Xeon EM64T, and Intel Pentium IV EM64T



2.048GB or above

SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition (32-bit) x64


Minimum Requirements

Recommended Requirements


1.0GHz: Pentium III

2GHz or higher: Pentium III



2.048GB or above

SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition (32-bit)


Minimum Requirements

Recommended Requirements


1.0GHz: Pentium III

2GHz or higher: Pentium III



2.048GB or above

The minimum disk space requirements differ depending on which SQL Server 2008 feature will be installed. Table 1.2 depicts these minimum disk space specifications itemized by feature.

Table 1.2. SQL Server 2008 Minimum Disk Requirements

SQL Server 2008 Feature

Minimum Disk Space Required in MB

Database Engine and data files, Replication, and Full-Text Search


Analysis Services and data files


Reporting Services and Report Manager


Integration Services


Client Components


SQL Server Books Online (BOL) and SQL Server Compact Books Online


Examining SQL Server 2008 Software Prerequisites

Before installing SQL Server 2008, it is also important to get acquainted with the software prerequisites, as many of these prerequisites outline best practices. As such, you should take the time to review the prerequisites before implementation to ensure installation or upgrade success. The SQL Server 2008 software prerequisites include

  • .NET Framework 3.5
  • Windows Installer 4.5 or later
  • Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) 2.8 SP1 or later
  • Internet Explorer 6 SP1 or later
  • Latest version of PowerShell
  • Latest Windows Server hot fixes are recommended
  • If SQL Server 2008 will be virtualized, then Hyper-V is required and supported.

The SQL Server installation wizard will first verify if these software prerequisites are already installed. If they are not, don’t panic—the SQL Server 2008 installation wizard is very intuitive and will most likely prompt, and then install all of these software prerequisites automatically. Therefore, you won’t have to spend hours conducting Google searches, trying to nail down the appropriate downloads, including versions.

Choosing the Appropriate SQL Server Edition

SQL Server 2008 comes in a variety of editions that are tailored to suit the needs and requirements of different organizations and applications. The SQL Server 2008 Editions include the Enterprise, Standard, Workgroup, Express, Compact, and Developer Editions, as described in the following sections.

SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition

The SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition is the complete feature set of the product and is designed to support the needs of the largest enterprises. It includes all the features for scalability, performance, high availability, enterprise security, data warehousing, business intelligence, and enterprise manageability. The Enterprise Edition is fully 64-bit capable, is optimized to run on 64-bit platforms and can support all the processors and memory found in the operating system.

Some other new features only found in the Enterprise edition include Partitioned Table Parallelism, enhanced database mirroring features, Resource Governor, Backup Compression, online operations, Hot Add CPU, Performance Data Collector, Extensible Key Management, Failover Clustering, Transparent Data Encryption, and Change Data Capture.

SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition

The SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition includes the core set of functionality needed to support data warehouses, electronic commerce applications, and line-of-business applications. It is designed to support the needs of small to medium organizations. The Standard Edition is fully 64-bit capable and can support a maximum of four processors. It is worth mentioning that two nodes of failover clustering is also supported within the Standard Edition.

SQL Server 2008 Workgroup Edition

The SQL Server 2008 Workgroup Edition is designed for small organizations and includes the core database features needed for applications.

SQL Server 2008 Express Edition

The SQL Server 2008 Express Edition is the free edition that is designed to support small or targeted applications with a core set of secure database requirements. This edition replaces the Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) platform available in SQL Server 2000 and augments the Express Edition in SQL Server 2005.

SQL Server 2008 Compact Edition

The SQL Server 2008 Compact Edition is the free edition that runs on mobile devices as well as desktops. This provides a single lightweight database platform for client applications. This edition replaces the SQL Server Mobile product and augments the SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition.

SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition

The SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition provides all the same features and functionality as the Enterprise Edition but is licensed only for development purposes.

The following link includes the full list of features supported based on the Editions of SQL Server 2008.


Choosing the Appropriate Windows Operating System Version and Edition to Support the SQL Server Installation

SQL Server 2008 can run on a number of Windows operating systems. SQL Server 2008 can run on top of Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003 SP2, Windows VISTA, and Windows XP. When referring to Windows Server 2008, either the Windows Server 2008 edition with or without Hyper-V can be utilized. Please note that SQL Server 2008 does not support running Windows 2000 or Windows NT 4.0.

Benefits of Running SQL Server 2008 on Windows Server 2008

Hands down, the Windows Server 2008 family of operating systems is the best choice for running SQL Server 2008. By combining the two products, the highest level of security, scalability, reliability, high availability and compliance can be achieved. Some of the major benefits of running SQL Server 2008 on Windows Server 2008 include the following:

  • Authentication—The Windows Server 2008 authentication mechanism provides the highest level of security for authorization when running Active Directory Domain Services. SQL Server can leverage the following: Active Directory role-based security for authorization and administration, two-factor authentication with SmartCard-based certificates and biometric devices, and integration with certificate services. Finally, Kerberos is now supported for all SQL Server protocols.
  • Encryption—By combining the encryption technologies included in both SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008, it is finally possible to achieve encryption from an end-to-end perspective.
  • Minimized Footprint—Both Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 provide a modularized installation process that is very granular. Therefore, you only install what you need. This strategy minimizes the attack surface, which in turn, mitigates breaches and compromises.
  • Compliance—New features and functionality such as integrating Audit and Audit Specifications directly with the Windows Server 2008 event and security logs allows for stronger auditing functionality, which is a requirement of many major regulatory compliances.
  • Dynamic Hardware Partitioning—Allows for both CPU and RAM to be added to the SQL Server system on the fly, without causing a server outage.
  • High Availability Clustering—Windows Server 2008 supports up to 16 nodes within a SQL Server 2008 failover cluster. In addition, the requirement of having all nodes within the same subnet has been alleviated. Consequently, with the new quorum model and no subnet restriction, it is easier to achieve geographically dispersed clusters.
  • Policy Based Management—By leveraging the Windows Server 2008 group policy and the configuration management strategies, policies can be created to manage SQL Server databases settings and configurations.
  • PowerShell—The latest scripting technology geared toward effectively managing Windows Server and Microsoft applications has extended to SQL Server 2008. DBAs can use the powerful command-line scripting technologies to automate administrator tasks for both Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008.
  • Performance Management—Windows Server 2008 introduces Windows Reliability and a newly refined performance monitor tool for troubleshooting and monitoring SQL Server system performance. In addition, the Windows performance framework has been augmented through the introduction of SQL Server 2008 Performance Data Collector. As a result, collecting, analyzing, and troubleshooting SQL Server data in a centralized solution for end-to-end monitoring can be achieved.
  • Consolidation and Virtualization—Hyper-V has been introduced with Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V is Microsoft’s virtualization technology. By using Hyper-V in conjunction with SQL Server 2008, you can consolidate SQL Servers into a virtualized environment, reduce SQL Server hardware, and reduce total cost of ownership within the infrastructure.

Understanding the Windows Server 2008 Family of Operating Systems

In the Windows 2008 family of operating systems, there are four main editions, and SQL Server 2008 can run on any of them. These editions include Windows Server 2008 Standard, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition, Windows Server 2008 Datacenter Edition, and Windows Web Server 2008.

Organizations and DBAs must understand their workload needs and requirements when selecting the appropriate Windows Server 2008 operating system edition to utilize. In addition, the Windows Server edition selected must also coincide with requirements pertaining to the edition of SQL Server 2008 selected. For example, the Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition might be selected if there is a need to sustain an eight-node SQL Server failover cluster; the Standard Edition may be selected in order to save on licensing costs; or Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition with Hyper-V may be selected if there is a need to virtualize the SQL Server environment.

Each edition supports both the 32-bit and 64-bit processor architectures and the Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter editions ship with or without Hyper-V. Hyper-V is the latest Microsoft virtualization technology based on Windows Server 2008.

Finally, when running SQL Server 2008 on Windows Server 2008, the maximum amount of RAM supported by the operating system on 32-bit systems is 4GB when running the Standard Edition and 64GB when running the Enterprise and Datacenter Editions. For a 64-bit system, the numbers increase as the Standard Edition can support 32GB and the Enterprise and Datacenter Editions can support up to 2TB of RAM. Hence it is strongly recommended to be using the x64 versions of the operating system whenever possible as it allows for greater flexibility and upgradability.

For an overview of the editions and a complete list of Windows 2008 features and functionality, refer to the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 home page at the following link: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/default.aspx.

New Installation, Upgrade, or Transition?

Organizations that have conducted a SQL Server implementation in the past may need to perform a new SQL Server 2008 installation, a side-by-side installation or upgrade their existing SQL Server system, which is commonly referred to as an in-place upgrade. Finally, organizations may choose to transition to SQL Server 2008 by first installing a new installation and then migrating SQL Server databases and objects from the legacy environment. There are benefits to each of these options. The next two sections detail the benefits.

Should You Perform a New SQL Server 2008 Installation?

The primary benefit of a new installation is that, by installing the operating system from scratch, you are starting with a known good server and a brand new SQL Server 2008 implementation. You can avoid migrating problems that might have existed on your previous server—whether due to corrupt software, incorrect configuration settings, or improperly installed applications. Moreover, a new installation provides an opportunity for housecleaning as legacy SQL Server items are not carried over.

For example, it is common for an old SQL Server system to have many outdated databases, packages, user accounts, and stored procedures that have not been touched in over 10 years. Keep in mind, however, that you will also lose all configuration settings from your previous installation. In addition, all SQL Server elements, such as databases, user accounts, packages, and so on, will need to be migrated/transitioned. Moreover, required applications on the legacy server will need to be reinstalled after the installation of the new operating system and the SQL Server 2008 implementation are complete. Make sure you document your server configuration information and back up any data that you want to keep.

When running SQL Server 2008, there may be situations where installing a new installation from scratch is the only option. For example, it is not possible to upgrade a legacy SQL Server Failover Cluster from SQL Server 2005 running on Windows Server 2003 to SQL Server 2008 Failover Clustering running on Windows Server 2008.

Should You Upgrade an Existing SQL Server System to SQL Server 2008?

Upgrading, on the other hand, replaces your current SQL Server binaries but keeps existing databases, components, features, packages, users, settings, groups, rights, and permissions intact. In this scenario, you don’t have to reinstall applications or restore data. Before choosing this option, keep in mind that you should test your applications and databases for compatibility before migration. Just because they worked on previous versions of SQL Server does not mean they will work on SQL Server 2008.

As always, before performing any type of server maintenance such as a SQL Server or Windows Server 2008 in-place upgrade, you should perform a complete backup of the SQL Server environment, any applications residing on the server, and data that you want to preserve. Do not forget to include the System State when backing up the SQL Server system. It is required when performing a restore if you want to maintain the existing Windows settings.

Table 1.3 lists the upgrade paths for SQL Server 2008.

Table 1.3. SQL Server 2008 Upgrade Paths

Previous SQL Server System

Upgrade to SQL Server 2008

SQL Server 2008

SQL Server version upgrades supported

SQL Server 2005

Yes, fully supported to like edition

SQL Server 2000

Yes, fully supported to like edition

SQL Server 7.0

Not supported

SQL Server 6.5

Not supported

Should You Upgrade the Operating System to Windows Server 2008?

On another note, when upgrading an existing system to SQL Server 2008, there may be situations when an organization would also want to upgrade the underlying operating system to Windows Server 2008. To upgrade to Windows 2008, you must be running a server-level operating system. You cannot upgrade Workstation or Home Editions of operating systems such as Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 2008. To upgrade your existing SQL Server’s operating system, you must be running Windows Server 2003. An upgrade from Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 Server is not permitted. Table 1.4 lists the available upgrade paths to Windows 2008.

Table 1.4. Windows Server 2008 Upgrade Paths

Previous Operating System

Upgrade to Windows Server 2008

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter Edition

Yes, fully supported to like edition

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating systems with Service Pack 1 (SP1) Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter Edition

Yes, fully supported to like edition

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating systems with Service Pack 2 (SP2) Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter Edition

Yes, fully supported to like edition

Windows NT 4.0

Not supported

Windows 2000 Server

Not supported

Windows XP

Not supported

Windows Vista

Not supported

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