Microsoft released Service Pack 2 (SP2) for SQL Server 2005, a free upgrade available for download, in addition to new virtualisation licensing for the database.

Microsoft said it will allow unlimited virtual instances of the SQL Server SP2 database to run on servers that are fully licensed for SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition.

Enterprises are exploring virtualisation technology - which allow multiple copies of an OS to run on one piece of hardware - to reduce the number of physical servers and increase their utilization.

The free upgrade for the company's popular database product also includes better interoperability with other vendors. One SQL Server 2005 feature, called Report Builder, can build customized reports drawn on data held in Oracle Corp. products and Hyperion Solutions's Essbase database, Microsoft said.

SQL Server 2005 SP2 will be the only release of the database that Microsoft will support for its Windows Vista OS and upcoming Longhorn server, due for a final release in the second half of this year.

Other features of SP2 include:

- Add-ins for Office 2007 programs such as Excel and Visio - a drawing and diagramming application -- will enable data mining using SQL Server Analysis Services, the database's online analytical processing component.

- SQL Server Reporting Services -- a tool for creating and managing reports -- is integrated with SharePoint, the company's portal building and document-sharing software.

- New management tools include improved database maintenance, enhanced management reports and a new copy database wizard.

Microsoft also announced new management reports for SQL Server Express Edition, the free version of the database, and SQL Compact Edition, an embedded database for mobile devices such as tablet PCs and smart phones.

Find your next job with techworld jobs