According to Francois Ajenstat, Microsoft's director of SQL Server marketing, the company agreed to release another service pack sometime after the release of SQL Server 2008 in the third quarter of this year.
Unlike previous SQL Server service packs, which offered major features on occasion, SQL Server 2005 SP3 will merely roll up numerous cumulative updates.
SQL Server 2008 will include business intelligence features, but the main attraction for IT managers is likely to be a feature that lets administrators set one application policy across all servers, versus performing such tasks on each particular instance of a database, according to the company.
One expert said that Microsoft's decision to release a new service pack for SQL Server 2005 is great news for the thousands of companies not yet ready to advance to SQL Server 2008.
"While SQL Server 2008 has many compelling features [for IT executives to] seriously consider migrating from SQL Server 2005, many companies cannot justify the cost and effort to move to the new platform, especially if they only recently migrated to 2005," said Roman Rehak, a SQL Server MVP and president of the Vermont SQL Server User's Group.
SQL Server 2005 SP3 will also be helpful for IT shops and third-party vendors in terms of their receipt of third-party support. Often, whether or not an IT shop is running the latest service pack is the criteria for receiving support from those vendors, said Rick Heiges, senior solutions consultant for Scalability Experts Inc., a consulting firm based in Coppell, Texas.
"Microsoft has issued seven cumulative updates [for SQL Server 2005]," Heiges said. "[Third-party vendors] don't treat them with as much authority as a [service pack] release."