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Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition Overview

White Paper

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Introduction 3

Business Environment and Customer Challenges 3

The Solution 4

How SQL Server Compact Edition Can Help 4

Faster Results and Increased Productivity 4

Developers 4

Administrators 4

Better Decisions 5

Trusted Platform 6

Reliability 6

Better Over Time 6

Conclusion 7


A new generation of applications is on the horizon for businesses and consumers. This is driven by market changes such as a growing mobile workforce and its need for productivity even when not “connected” and an explosive growth of new devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), portable music players, and gaming consoles, creating exciting possibilities for new applications. These new applications place new demands on the data platform on which they are developed.

To meet the needs of this changing application landscape, Microsoft introduces its newest edition of the SQL Server database product line, SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition — a maintenance-free, compact embedded database for single-user client applications for all Windows Platforms, including Tablet PCs, Pocket PCs, Smart Phones and Desktops. Compact Edition is available to deploy and redistribute free of charge.

This white paper outlines the current business and consumer environment and the key factors that influence the need for this new generation of applications. It describes how SQL Server Compact Edition can be used to satisfy the data platform demands of these applications.

Business Environment and Customer Challenges

Evolving business and consumer needs are placing new demands on the next generation of applications. In the business sphere, more and more employees or information workers are mobile and are seeing the need to run their traditional desktop applications on mobile devices like PDAs and Tablet PCs. For example, sales personnel require Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications on their mobile devices; field service employees need to check product specifications and perform online ordering from mobile devices, and so on. In addition, these mobile information workers cannot rely on being connected to the corporate network at all times, but need to have the same rich and complete application experience in the “disconnected” or “occasionally connected” state, as they would have in the “connected” state. A classic example of this is the offline e-mail experience presented by Microsoft Office Outlook, where users can work on their locally stored e-mails in a disconnected state and synchronize with the server when connectivity is available. Information workers also expect a seamless integrated experience between multiple devices. For example, one may start entering data into an expense reporting application on a PDA and continue working on the same application from a desktop at a later point, starting from where he or she left off on the PDA.

Another growing trend in businesses today is to gain competitive advantage by gaining insights from a plethora of data that is collected every day. This data is being gathered at the “edges” of the enterprise – for example: inventory information gathered through scanning radio frequency identification (RFID) tags at a warehouse – and needs to be aggregated with data from other edge locations at a central site for analysis. Similarly, the mobile workforce that works at the edges of the enterprise needs relevant and current business information from the central data repository.

Meanwhile, information technology (IT) departments that develop and deploy these line-of-business (LOB) applications in their businesses continue to grapple with the challenge of providing robust IT services that are secure and reliable in spite of constantly falling budgets. IT departments continue to look for ways to develop new applications rapidly by leveraging existing skills and tools and to find ways to easily deploy and manage end-user applications, which helps to keep costs down.

For consumers, rich personal applications continue to proliferate and evolve on desktops and home devices, such as gaming consoles and digital video recorders (DVRs). These applications are becoming more and more connected as vendors sell additional personalized services through the Internet. For example, a vendor that sells a tax application can offer services to consumers to securely store their year-end data online for any future need. Similarly, vendors can offer enhanced end-user experiences with their client applications using this service model. For example, an online streaming audio/video service that automatically downloads images of the album or video cover can enhance the end-user experience. Staying in touch with the customer through an Internet service can also help vendors track user preferences and better target their software offerings.

Rich consumer applications also continue to grow rapidly in mobile phones and in the convergent devices arena. Applications such as calendaring that were in the business realm are now also increasingly being required in personal devices.

As application paradigms change, application developers have new requirements for the database platform on which these applications are built. In particular, there is a growing need for local-store databases that are:

  • Embeddable to provide better application security, performance, and ease of distribution and deployment.

  • Lightweight and compact to preserve system resources, especially in devices where processor and memory is premium.

  • Componentizable to allow application vendors to choose essential functionality only, which keeps application size to a minimum.

  • Supported on multiple devices so the same application code can be used to build applications on multiple devices and platforms.

  • Capable of providing automatic synchronization to allow end-users to work with most recent data in an offline application experience and to push updates to a central location.

  • Built with advanced security to protect against threats such as stolen mobile devices.

The Solution

In light of the changing needs of the new class of applications, Microsoft introduces its newest edition of the SQL Server database product line, SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition. It is an evolution of the SQL Server Mobile Edition technology. While the latter was used exclusively for mobile devices, its capabilities are now being leveraged to create maintenance-free, compact (less than 2 MB disk footprint) embedded databases for single-user client applications for all Microsoft Windows platforms, including Tablet PCs, Pocket PCs, smart phones, and desktops, to enable the scenarios discussed earlier in the paper.

SQL Server Compact Edition also enables an application to scale up, either via a robust synchronization with other SQL Server Editions, or by moving to a higher edition of SQL Server.

How SQL Server Compact Edition Can Help

SQL Server Compact Edition addresses the new application development challenges by providing for faster results and increased productivity, better decision making support and a trusted platform.
Faster Results and Increased Productivity

Developers and administrators can achieve faster results with SQL Server Compact Edition.

SQL Server Compact Edition is tightly integrated with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 as well as the .NET Framework. Developers can readily use their existing knowledge of developing database applications with Visual Studio 2005 to build SQL Server Compact Edition based applications, which enables them to be instantly productive. SQL Server Compact Edition supports a familiar structured query language (SQL) syntax and common programming model, such as ADO.NET. A significant productivity advantage for developers is that they can use the same application code to build the application for multiple devices and platforms. SQL Server Compact Edition applications can also be seamlessly migrated from mobile and desktop scenarios to work with other editions of SQL Server 2005 in multi-user or server scenarios.

As the database is embedded in the application, little or no management is required. SQL Server Compact Edition can be included in the application package and deployed using the Click Once deployment feature of Visual Studio 2005. Alternatively, this lightweight data store can be downloaded quickly. SQL Server Compact Edition can be configured to keep up-to-date with the Microsoft Update services, so administrators will not need to bother with complicated maintenance plans. However, the user needs to have administrative privileges to install SQL Server Compact Edition on a tablet PC or desktop. An administrator can use SQL Server Management Studio (including Express Edition) to administer the database.
Better Decisions

With SQL Server Compact Edition, together with SQL Server 2005 business intelligence capabilities, you can extend your business insights further across the organization to data sources in distributed and mobile applications. By enabling synchronization to a central database, data in such applications can be captured, analyzed by SQL Server Analysis Services, and reported by SQL Server Reporting Services. The ReportViewer Controls available in Visual Studio 2005 can be used in applications to provide rich reports based on data from SQL Server Compact Edition. With SQL Server Compact Edition, you can deliver the right data, at the right place and time, in the right form factor.
Trusted Platform

As a leading database platform, SQL Server 2005 provides an unsurpassed level of trust. The SQL Server product line has been in existence for more than 10 years and has millions of customers.

Being a member of the SQL Server 2005 family, SQL Server Compact Edition takes advantage of proven technologies. Originally built on SQL Server Mobile technology, SQL Server Compact Edition has additional capabilities to ensure that applications perform well and are secure. SQL Server Compact Edition includes “self-healing” and management technologies that are designed to handle “instant off” and dead battery scenarios in mobile devices.

SQL Server Compact Edition supports two synchronization technologies to ensure that data is reliably delivered, supporting updates on both the server and client end. Remote Data Access (RDA) is a synchronization technology that can be used when a lightweight synchronization solution is adequate (e.g. no conflict resolution). SQL Server Compact Edition also supports merge replication, which is ideal when a more sophisticated solution is required.

Security was a critical part of the design of SQL Server Compact Edition. Because it was designed into the product, organizations can trust the high security level for data protection in these ways:

  • Synchronization uses 128-bit SSL for secure and reliable functionality, even through firewalls.

  • SQL Server Compact Edition uses 128-bit RSA file-based encryption on devices for database file security.

  • SQL Server Compact Edition provides an encrypted data format with password protection.

  • SQL Server Compact Edition uses a single file format, enabling document-safe format.
Better Over Time

SQL Server scales up from a device to the data center, so as business requirements grow, SQL Server Compact Edition can easily scale up to other editions of SQL Server. Applications of all sizes are supported on the trusted SQL Server platform, including:

  • ISV applications that run on mobile devices or a local desktop.

  • Occasionally connected applications that need automatic synchronization.

  • Small company, departmental, and workgroup scenarios.

  • Web-based applications.

  • Large enterprise applications, including MRP, financial, and ERP scenarios.


SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition rises to the challenge of enabling application vendors and IT organizations to create the next wave of applications. Whether it is providing a rich and complete desktop-like application experience to the mobile information workers who are occasionally connected or consumers who are demanding more from their desktop and device applications, SQL Server Compact Edition has a host of features and capabilities that enable it to effectively serve as a local data store for these new applications. Such features include high security, high performance, simple development and deployment, and automatic synchronization.

For more information:

    The information contained in this document represents the current view of Microsoft Corporation on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Microsoft must respond to changing market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft, and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.

    This white paper is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS DOCUMENT.

    Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written per of Microsoft Corporation.

    Microsoft may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from Microsoft, the furnishing of this document does not give you any license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property.

    © 2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    The example companies, organizations, products, domain names, e-mail addresses, logos, people, places, and events depicted herein are fictitious. No association with any real company, organization, product, domain name, e-mail address, logo, person, place, or event is intended or should be inferred.

    Microsoft, Visual Basic, Visual Studio, Win32, Windows, and Windows Server, SQL Server are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

    All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

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