Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Feature-Complete Preview

In November, Microsoft released the feature-complete preview of SQL Server 2008 R2, the first major upgrade of its flagship database platform in nearly two years. The new version is expected to ship in the first half of next year, Microsoft officials said at the annual Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS) Summit in Seattle.

In addition to introducing new self-service business intelligence (BI) capabilities, Microsoft said the new release of SQL Server will come in two new packages: a Data Center Edition and Parallel Data Warehouse (formerly known as Project Madison), representing the most scalable database servers offered by Microsoft to date.

November CTP
The November CTP of SQL Server 2008 R2 is the first preview of Microsoft's new PowerPivot technology-formerly code-named "Project Gemini"-and will allow BI data collected from it to be shared to SharePoint Server. PowerPivot lets business users create their own BI solutions in Excel with a new in-memory analysis engine that Microsoft says will work on millions of rows of data. "Users can manipulate the data in new ways to create BI solutions and then publish them to SharePoint to collaborate with other users," explains Fausto Ibarra, Microsoft's director of SQL Server product management.

Gartner Inc. analyst Mark Beyer says the PowerPivot technology will help Microsoft bring BI to end users while helping them clean up many of the information silos that are in Excel cubes today. "You kind of have to clean up your own house when you make such a powerful and easy-to-use tool as Excel, and I think this is a step toward cleaning up the BI chaos," Beyer says.

Also in the new CTP, developers and administrators will be able to centrally manage groups of SQL Server databases to monitor performance problems and move databases from one server to another. The CTP also supports Hyper-V virtualization in Windows Server. "Specifically, we'll be supporting live migrations to enable users who have virtual database workloads to seamlessly migrate them to other servers without any perceived downtime for their users," Ibarra says.

A new component of the SQL Server Information platform, as previously announced, will include Stream Insight, a complex event processing platform that allows users to build new types of solutions like algorithmic trading, Web analytics or industrial process controls, where an organization might have hundreds or thousands of events happening in real time. This would allow a customer to act on those events, Ibarra explains.

Improvements and Pricing
Data Center Edition ($57,500 per processor) will scale up to 256 logical processors or cores, a fourfold increase from the limit of the current edition of SQL Server. Parallel Data Warehouse is Microsoft's highest-end implementation to date. Based on the technology it acquired from DATAllegro, the systems will be sold as appliances by IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Bull and Dell Inc., among others.

Standard Edition is $7,500 per processor or $1,000 per server plus $162 per client access license (CAL). Enterprise Edition costs $28,800 per processor or $9,900 per server plus $162 per CAL.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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