Sunday, February 21, 2010

SQL Server 2008 and MS BI Setup for learning and training - The Cheap Way is VPC and VHD

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Professionals who work in countries with stronger economy have an invisible advantage over professionals who come from countries with poorer economies - being able to buy or arrange licensed software, hardware and training content. Mostly those who are focused enough are able to self-learn technology these days, as in my belief, information is the cheapest available thing available over the web today and trial versions keep life easy for technology aspirants.

Hardware and software are two of the challenges that developers face in learning new technologies which demands huge resources in terms of hardware and installation know-how. Also a technology which you want to try out might not just have an operating system dependency. There might be lot of supporting software components which might be required to be setup before you can use the product that you want to install and work with. Luckily that is not the case with SQL Server but this is definitely the case with Sharepoint. Also it might come as a surprise, but many developers would not have personal laptops or machines upgraded enough to handle SQL Server 2008 installation. And if you want to develop and test some solution on the same with something like Performancepoint Services (which would require Sharepoint) installation, most of the developers would leave even the idea of thinking about it.

Here is one way that one can still continue to fulfill their dreams of working on a full fledged environment without great investments over hardware or knowhow of installation. Microsoft offers downloads of Virtual Hard Disks which comes with pre-installed softwares for a few products and it comes for free. One should just have a Virtual PC installed and attach this VHD to it. Below are the VHD available which you might feel interesting:

And if your requirement is a full install of all the MS BI related softwares, go for the MS BI VPC. Latest release in my knowledge as of this draft is version 7.1 and the links are available from here. This would save you from the pain of arranging high end hardware, installation know-how and other resources.

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