Yesterday, Microsoft released SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2 (SP2) to manufacturing. Acknowledging the significance of virtualization to Microsoft's future business strategy, the company announced that it would allow unlimited virtual instances on SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition. SP2 features include the following:

* Data Mining add-ins for the 2007 Microsoft Office system let you use SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) data mining from within Excel 2007 and Visio 2007.

* SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) integration with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides integration with the Report Center in SharePoint, enabling seamless consumption and management of SSRS reports within Microsoft Office SharePoint 2007.

* SQL Server Analysis Services improvements increase Excel 2007 and Excel Services performance and functionality.

* Data compression (varDecimal), an important feature for data-warehousing scenarios, requires less disk storage of decimal data, increasing overall performance.

* Manageability enhancements give you improved database-maintenance plans, enhanced management reports, and a new Copy Database wizard.

* Management reports added to SQL Server Express Edition provide data about the performance of Express Edition and SQL Server Compact Edition databases.

* Interoperability improvements include Oracle support in the Report Builder and access to SQL Server Reporting Services to build reports on Hyperion's Essbase cubes.

You can download SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2 at the following URL: http://www.microsoft.com/sql/sp2.mspx.