To persuade your boss to embrace an upgrade to SQL 2008, you need to know which features have high Return On Investment. They may have seen presentations talking about features like Spatial, or MERGE (and been quite impressed), but they may well have left those presentations thinking about the effort that's would be involved in rewriting applications to take advantage of these features. It's all well and good to see your customers on a map, but someone has to make that spatial data appear somewhere.
This post is a callout for features that will benefit you (and your boss) as soon as you do the upgrade (or soon after). And I welcome comments to list other items as well.
- Block Computation (in SSAS — which reduces the effort in processing significantly, for no change in the application )
- Transparent Data Encryption (in the Database Engine — which makes sure that data at rest is encrypted, with no change in the application)
- Backup Compression (which reduces the size of backups, and can be set as the default so that existing backup scripts don't need to change)
- Data Compression (minimal change to turn on compression on tables which will compress nicely)
- Filtered Indexes (because how far off is your next index creation, really?)
- Auditing & Change Data Tracking (because it's very easy to turn on and then review the data as you need it)
- Export to Word in SSRS (because everyone's wanted this for so long)
- SSRS paging (because SSRS used to get _all_ the data for a report before rendering it — but not in 2008)
- Resource Governor (easy to set up, nice to have in place for when you might want it)
- Hot-add memory (so that you can just plug in more memory without having to do restarts)
I'm not suggesting that an upgrade should be done flippantly. You should still consider the effort of thoroughly testing your system under SQL 2008. But hopefully this list can highlight some of the things that I've found are good persuaders. A list of "What's New in SQL 2008" can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/whats-new.aspx
Like I said, you may have other items on your own list, and I invite you to comment on this. You may also have things in place to handle things like encryption, and you may be running Hyperbac or one of the other compression tools.