Microsoft is adding a new hotfix option for its SQL Server customers similar to the one it began phasing in for Exchange Server users earlier this year.
Microsoft notified SQL Server users on April 5 of a new option -- known as the Incremental Servicing Model -- via which they can receive regularly scheduled hotfix updates, allowing them to plan more predictably their maintenance schedules.
Microsoft plans to provide automatic notifications to SQL Server customers when the new cumulative updates are available. Those interested in participating in the Incremental Servicing Model program should sign up via Microsoft's Support page.
SQL Server customers will now receive automatic notifications when the newest Cumulative Updates become available. In order to elect for the update, customers should visit the Microsoft Support Page at Support.Microsoft.com.
According to the SQL team, "Hotfixes are now available through Cumulative Updates, which include all the necessary fixes to date and are scheduled to be released every two months."
In certain critical cases, where SQL Server users "require 'On Demand' hotfixes, when no suitable workaround is available or when impact to customers is critical," Microsoft will still release the hotfixes to customers who meet the "On-Demand" bar, the Softies added.
"Microsoft is committed to ensuring that SQL Server customers can receive both scheduled and on-demand fixes to address a variety of scenarios," company officials reiterated, via an e-mailed statement.
With the introduction of Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft launched a similar hotfix-update mechanism. As the Exchange team explained to me earlier this year:
"With this new model, when we ship a cumulative rollup, it will contain all hotfixes we have done since the last major milestone (read as RTM or last service pack). We can do this with a high level of confidence that we’re not introducing new problems because of our much more automated test system. So, for Exchange 2007, the process will be more controlled, better tested, and easier to keep a server up to date with all known problems fixed. We can confidently tell people just to stay on the latest rollup patch, and they’ll be as up to date as possible without reading through a myriad of documentation on exactly which patches to apply and which to skip over."
Neither of the new Exchange nor the SQL Server hotfix programs is designed to replace traditional service packs.