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SQL Server 2008’s Features & Compatibility Level 100

SQL 2008 Compatibility Level 100

This blog post is a detailed exploration of Compatibility Level 100 and its close association with SQL Server 2008.

Understanding SQL Server 2008 Compatibility Levels

Compatibility levels are the bridge between past and present in the SQL Server world. They dictate the behavior of certain features in a database engine and ensure that databases retain their functionality and performance during upgrades. In essence, compatibility levels are the DNA sequencers that instruct the SQL Server which 'gene' to express, be it the 2008-era mirroring function or the later sequence object in 2019.

When re-platforming or upgrading your databases, setting the right compatibility level is crucial; a mismatch can lead to performance issues and potentially catastrophic malfunctions. It's both a safe harbor for your database's stability and a lifeline for your application’s continued operation.

Features of SQL 2008 Features & Compatibility Level 100

Database Mirroring:

SQL Server 2008 introduced database mirroring, a high-availability feature that provides redundancy and failover capabilities for databases. Compatibility level 100 retains support for database mirroring, allowing organizations to implement robust disaster recovery solutions.

Database mirroring in SQL Server 2008 is a high-availability and disaster recovery solution that provides redundancy and failover capabilities for databases. It operates by maintaining two copies of a database on separate server instances: the principal database and the mirror database. The principal database serves as the primary source of data, while the mirror database serves as a standby copy.

The principal database is the primary copy of the database that handles all read and write operations. Applications interact with the principal database as they normally would, making it the active and accessible instance.

The mirror database is an exact copy of the principal database, continuously synchronized with it. However, the mirror database remains in a standby mode and cannot be accessed directly by clients. It serves as a failover instance in case of failure of the principal database.

Optionally, a witness server can be configured in database mirroring to facilitate automatic failover. The witness server acts as a tiebreaker in situations where the principal and mirror servers lose communication. It helps determine whether a failover is necessary and ensures data integrity during failover.

Database mirroring supports both synchronous and asynchronous data transfer modes. In synchronous mode, transactions are committed on both the principal and mirror databases simultaneously, ensuring data consistency but potentially impacting performance due to increased latency. In asynchronous mode, transactions are committed on the principal database before being transferred to the mirror database, offering better performance but potentially leading to data loss in case of failover.

With automatic failover enabled and a witness server configured, database mirroring can automatically failover to the mirror database in the event of a failure of the principal database. This helps minimize downtime and ensures continuous availability of the database.

In scenarios where automatic failover is not desired or feasible, administrators can perform manual failover to initiate the failover process from the principal database to the mirror database. Manual failover allows for more control over the failover process and can be initiated during planned maintenance or troubleshooting activities.

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) provides tools for monitoring and managing database mirroring configurations. Administrators can monitor the status of mirroring sessions, configure failover settings, and perform maintenance tasks such as initializing mirroring, pausing/resuming mirroring, and monitoring performance metrics.

Overall, database mirroring in SQL Server 2008 offers a reliable and straightforward solution for achieving high availability and disaster recovery for critical databases. It provides organizations with the flexibility to configure mirroring according to their specific requirements and ensures continuous access to data even in the event of hardware failures or other disruptions.

Transparent Data Encryption (TDE):

TDE, introduced in SQL Server 2008, enables encryption of entire databases, ensuring data remains protected at rest. Compatibility level 100 supports TDE, allowing organizations to maintain data security compliance and protect sensitive information.

Transparent Data Encryption operates by encrypting the database files (both data and log files) at the disk level. When a database is encrypted with TDE, the data remains encrypted on disk, and SQL Server automatically encrypts and decrypts data as it is read from and written to the database.

The encryption and decryption processes are transparent to applications and users, hence the name "Transparent Data Encryption." This means that applications and users can interact with the database as they normally would, without needing to handle encryption and decryption logic themselves.

Example Code:

To enable Transparent Data Encryption for a database in SQL Server 2008, you can use the following T-SQL statements:

-- Enable Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) for a database
USE master;

Replace YourDatabaseName with the name of the database you want to encrypt.

To check the status of TDE for a database, you can use the following query:

-- Check Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) status for a database
USE master;
SELECT name, is_encrypted
FROM sys.databases
WHERE name = 'YourDatabaseName';

This query will return the name of the database (YourDatabaseName) and its encryption status (is_encrypted). If is_encrypted is 1, it means that TDE is enabled for the database.

Important Notes:

  • TDE does not encrypt data in transit; it only encrypts data at rest.

  • TDE does not protect against attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in SQL Server itself or in applications that have access to decrypted data.

  • Before enabling TDE for a database, it's important to back up the database and securely store the encryption key. Losing the encryption key can lead to data loss and make the encrypted database inaccessible.

Spatial Data Support:

Spatial data support in SQL Server 2008 enables the storage, manipulation, and analysis of geographic and geometric data types within a relational database. This feature allows developers to work with spatial data such as points, lines, polygons, and more, enabling the creation of location-based applications, geospatial analysis, and mapping functionalities.

Spatial Data Types:

SQL Server 2008 introduces several new data types specifically designed to store spatial data:

Geometry: Represents data in a flat, Euclidean (planar) coordinate system, suitable for analyzing geometric shapes in two-dimensional space.

Geography: Represents data in a round-earth coordinate system, suitable for analyzing geographic data such as points on a map, lines representing routes, or polygons representing regions.

Example Code:

Creating a Spatial Data Table:

CREATE TABLE SpatialData (
    Location GEOMETRY

In this example, a table named SpatialData is created with two columns: ID as an integer primary key and Location as a geometry data type.

Inserting Spatial Data:

INSERT INTO SpatialData (ID, Location)
VALUES (1, geometry::Point(10, 20, 0)); -- Example point

This SQL statement inserts a point with coordinates (10, 20) into the Location column of the SpatialData table.

Querying Spatial Data:

SELECT ID, Location.STAsText() AS LocationText
FROM SpatialData;

This query retrieves the ID and textual representation of the spatial data stored in the Location column of the SpatialData table.

Important Notes:

Spatial data support in SQL Server 2008 enables a wide range of spatial operations and functions for querying and analyzing spatial data. These include functions for calculating distances between spatial objects, performing geometric operations (e.g., intersection, union), and transforming spatial data between different coordinate systems.

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) provides a visual query designer for working with spatial data, making it easier to construct spatial queries and visualize the results on a map.

By leveraging spatial data support in SQL Server 2008, developers can build powerful location-based applications, perform geospatial analysis, and integrate spatial data into their database-driven solutions.

Table-Valued Parameters:

Table-valued parameters (TVPs) in SQL Server 2008 allow you to pass a table structure as a parameter to a stored procedure or function. This feature is particularly useful when you need to pass multiple rows of data to a stored procedure or function without resorting to multiple individual parameters or dynamic SQL.

With TVPs, you can define a user-defined table type that matches the structure of the table you want to pass as a parameter. Then, you can declare a parameter of that user-defined table type in your stored procedure or function. When calling the stored procedure or function, you can pass a table variable or a result set that matches the structure of the user-defined table type as the parameter value.


Create a User-Defined Table Type:

    EmployeeID INT,
    Name NVARCHAR(50),
    DepartmentID INT

This SQL statement creates a user-defined table type named EmployeeType with three columns: EmployeeID, Name, and DepartmentID.

Create a Stored Procedure that Accepts TVP:

    @Employees EmployeeType READONLY
    INSERT INTO Employees (EmployeeID, Name, DepartmentID)
    SELECT EmployeeID, Name, DepartmentID
    FROM @Employees;

This stored procedure named InsertEmployees accepts a TVP parameter named @Employees of type EmployeeType. It inserts the data from the TVP into the Employees table.

Declare and Populate a Table Variable:

DECLARE @EmployeesTable EmployeeType;
INSERT INTO @EmployeesTable (EmployeeID, Name, DepartmentID)
VALUES (1, 'John Doe', 101),
       (2, 'Jane Smith', 102),
       (3, 'Mike Johnson', 101);

This code declares a table variable @EmployeesTable of type EmployeeType and populates it with multiple rows of employee data.

Call the Stored Procedure with TVP:

EXEC InsertEmployees @Employees = @EmployeesTable;

This statement calls the InsertEmployees stored procedure and passes the table variable @EmployeesTable as the value of the @Employees parameter.

TVPs provide a convenient way to pass multiple rows of data to stored procedures without resorting to workarounds like dynamic SQL or XML parameters. They can improve performance and maintainability of your code compared to alternatives like passing delimited strings or individual parameters. Be mindful of the performance implications when using TVPs with large datasets, as TVPs are not optimized for bulk inserts or updates.

HierarchyID Data Type:

The HierarchyID data type in SQL Server 2008 enables the representation and manipulation of hierarchical data structures within a relational database. It provides a way to model parent-child relationships in a hierarchical manner, making it useful for representing organizational charts, file systems, product categories, and other hierarchical data scenarios.


The HierarchyID data type represents a position in a hierarchy tree. Each node in the hierarchy is assigned a unique HierarchyID value, which encodes its position relative to other nodes in the hierarchy. HierarchyID values can be compared, sorted, and manipulated using a set of built-in methods provided by SQL Server.


Let's illustrate the usage of the HierarchyID data type with an example of representing an organizational hierarchy:

Create a Table with HierarchyID Column:

CREATE TABLE OrganizationalHierarchy (
    NodeID HierarchyID PRIMARY KEY,
    NodeName NVARCHAR(100)

In this example, we create a table named OrganizationalHierarchy with two columns: NodeID of type HierarchyID and NodeName to store the name of each node in the hierarchy.

Insert Nodes into the Hierarchy:

INSERT INTO OrganizationalHierarchy (NodeID, NodeName)
VALUES (HierarchyID::GetRoot(), 'CEO'),
       (HierarchyID::GetRoot().GetDescendant(NULL, NULL), 'CFO'), -- CFO is a child of CEO
       (HierarchyID::GetRoot().GetDescendant(NULL, NULL), 'CTO'), -- CTO is also a child of CEO
       (HierarchyID::GetRoot().GetDescendant(NULL, NULL), 'Manager'), -- Manager is a child of CFO and CTO
       (HierarchyID::GetRoot().GetDescendant(NULL, NULL), 'Employee'); -- Employee is a child of Manager

In this step, we use the HierarchyID::GetRoot() method to get the root node of the hierarchy. We then use the GetDescendant() method to generate unique child nodes for each parent node, effectively building a hierarchical structure.

Query the Organizational Hierarchy:

-- Query the organizational hierarchy
SELECT NodeID.ToString() AS NodePath, NodeName
FROM OrganizationalHierarchy

This query retrieves the hierarchical structure of the organizational hierarchy, displaying the NodePath (encoded HierarchyID value) and NodeName for each node. The ToString() method is used to convert the HierarchyID value to a human-readable string representation.

Important Notes:

  • HierarchyID values can be compared using standard comparison operators (<, <=, =, >=, >) to determine parent-child relationships and hierarchical order.

  • SQL Server provides a set of built-in methods for manipulating HierarchyID values, such as GetRoot(), GetDescendant(), GetAncestor(), IsDescendantOf(), etc.

  • The HierarchyID data type allows for efficient querying and manipulation of hierarchical data structures, making it suitable for various hierarchical data scenarios.

T-SQL Enhancements:

In SQL Server compatibility level 100, which corresponds to SQL Server 2008, several updates and enhancements were introduced to the T-SQL language. While not as extensive as in later versions, SQL Server 2008 brought significant improvements and new features to T-SQL, enhancing its capabilities for querying and managing data. Some of the key updates in T-SQL for compatibility level 100 include:

MERGE Statement: The MERGE statement allows you to perform INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE operations on a target table based on the results of a join with a source table. It streamlines the process of performing multiple data manipulation operations in a single statement, improving performance and maintainability.

Compound Operators (+=, -=, *=, /=, %=): SQL Server 2008 introduced compound operators for arithmetic operations, allowing you to perform arithmetic and assignment in a single statement. For example, you can use += to add a value to a variable without needing to specify the variable name again.

Enhancements to Common Table Expressions (CTEs): SQL Server 2008 introduced enhancements to CTEs, including support for recursive CTEs that enable hierarchical queries and iterative operations. Recursive CTEs allow you to traverse hierarchical data structures, such as organizational charts or bill of materials.

New Functions: SQL Server 2008 introduced several new built-in functions to enhance T-SQL capabilities, such as ROW_NUMBER(), RANK(), DENSE_RANK(), NTILE(), and more. These functions enable advanced querying and analysis of data, including ranking, partitioning, and windowing operations.

Improved Error Handling: SQL Server 2008 introduced enhancements to error handling in T-SQL, including the THROW statement for raising custom errors with detailed error messages and the TRY...CATCH construct is used to handle exceptions in a structured manner.

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