Congratulations to you for taking the initiative to learn about SQL Server 2008, while trying to balance both your current projects and future needs. From all that we have seen with SQL Server 2008 based on our own research, our recent web cast and sessions at SQL PASS, SQL Server 2008 is offering more functionality with improved performance at the same price point as SQL Server 2005, so this should appeal to a variety of levels in your organization. So let's jump into pulling together a plan to learn SQL Server 2008:
Plan to Learn SQL Server 2008
- Define learning priorities - Depending on your role in the organization, it could take you down a few different paths. Although to me the first priority would be to work through the upgrade and validate that the application is going to work properly, your goals maybe related to Reporting Services or Analysis Services. So, setup your goals and work through them on a weekly basis.
- Resources - A number of resources (tips, articles, web casts, white papers, books, conferences, training sessions, etc.) are currently available on SQL Server 2008, so take advantage of the work the trail blazers have already done. Use this as a starting point and then start to see what it takes to meet your learning priorities.
- Environment - Be sure to set aside a physical or virtual environment that you can use to work through the installation, upgrade, testing and learning. Talk to your team members to see if you can get an old machine to use for the next few months. This is a must have. If you cannot get a place to work with SQL Server 2008, the learning process will be tough.
- Time - Set aside time on a weekly basis. If you are stretched thin on a number of projects be sure to set aside time on your calendar. Make it a busy time on your calendar and if you can get away from your desk so you do not have any visitors, you will probably have a better learning experience.
- Download the Community Technology Previews (CTP) - Besides the current CTP, two more are expected to be released based on information from the recent SQL PASS summit, so be on the lookout for them.
- Upgrade and new feature set - Validate that the current application works properly before starting to learn about the new feature set. Once you have become familiar with these items, think about where these features could benefit your current applications and/or your current operational needs. With a basic understanding, start pulling together a plan on how to implement these technologies and show the value over the current techniques. Also consider these new features as a new opportunity from an IT and business perspective.
- Divide, conquer and share - If your organization uses the entire SQL Server platform, working through all of the details can become time consuming for a single person, so figure out a way to split up the platform and equally share the knowledge between the team members. Something like a lunch and learn could be a good forum.
- Daily Tasks and Coding Techniques - Pull out your scripts and make sure they will work as expected in SQL Server 2008. Click through the GUI and find every button that may turn into a little tricks for you. It is better to do it now when it is a sandbox then ask yourself what some button does when the SQL Server instance is in production.
- Code Conversion - Check out some of the new code features and see if you can improve your coding with all that SQL Server 2008 has to offer.
- Implement new features - Once you have the day to day tasks down, then start working through new features that make sense to your business, applications and users. Just try one out at a time and see how things go.
- User Groups - I know many of the local user groups are having sessions on SQL Server 2008. If you have not attended a recent session, then consider a SQL Server 2008 topic. If you have learned a great deal about SQL Server 2008, then consider delivering a presentation to help the rest of the local community.
- Microsoft Release Event - I can remember a few of the Microsoft events related to SQL Server and other developer technologies. They have all been informative and valuable to my learning. You might run into some marketing, but all and all, I have gained many valuable nuggets at the events. So be on the lookout for them, register and clear the time out on your calendar.