The second half of 2009 is shaping up to be an important time for Microsoft as several major product releases are scheduled (including Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Exchange Server 2010), along with technical previews for SQL Server 2008 R2 and Office 2010, both of which are due for release in the first half of 2010.
‘Kilimanjaro’ confirmed as SQL Server 2008 R2
The summer 2009 release of the CTP of SQL Server 2008 R2 (previously known as ‘Kilimanjaro’) was announced in May at the Tech-Ed event in Los Angeles, and its emergence, hot on the heels of SQL Server 2008, shows just how committed Microsoft are to taking the lead in the data management arena. Detailed discussion about the new release will have to wait until I can get my hands on the CTP itself, but the range of new features, a full list of which can be found at the SQL Server 2008 R2 site (see end of article), looks very promising. The main points are:
Improved Performance and Management
The new version will support 256 logical processors, up from 64 in the current release. This increase enables you to take advantage of the ongoing advances in multi-core processor technology to provide improved performance, which will be invaluable if you are planning to consolidate databases and servers to cut costs and ease the administrative burden. Improvements to SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) make the centralized management of multiple servers more straightforward through the provision of enrolment wizards and dashboard viewpoints that give you improved insight and access to key information, such as utilization and policy violations.
Improved Data Quality
With the ever increasing amount of data that organizations have to manage, and the proliferation of locations where that data is stored, maintaining data quality has emerged as a major headache for companies over the last few years. SQL Server 2008 R2 includes ‘Master Data Services’, a new feature that helps organizations to track their data more effectively. Master Data Services comprises a ‘Master Data Hub’ and a ‘Stewardship Portal’ through which you can manage master data. By using Master Data Management to identify and maintain a ‘single version of the truth’ within their data, organizations will benefit from improvements in the reliability of business decisions and other operational processes that are based upon that data.
Add-ins for Microsoft Office Excel 2010 and Microsoft Office SharePoint 2010 promise to make it easier for users to explore and integrate data from multiple sources and to publish reports and analyses for consumption by other users. In addition, the SharePoint 2010 Management Console enables centralized management of user-generated Business Intelligence (BI) activities, including monitoring, setting policies, and securing resources such as reports. Microsoft refer to this as ‘Self Service Analysis’, the idea being that it places the information that users need into their hands, and so speeds up data-dependent business processes.
Reporting Services has also been re-vamped with improved drag and drop report creation and enhanced data modelling, which make it easier for non-technical users to create reports, and support for geospatial visualization so that, for example, you can view sales statistics by region in a map format.
The focus on improved data management and BI in this release of SQL Server comes as no surprise and continues the trend first seen in SQL Server 2005. The R2 version of SQL Server 2008 looks like it will have a lot to offer; the improved processor support alone is a major benefit given the current trend towards server consolidation. As more information becomes available, I’ll let you know, but for now you can register for the CTP download at http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/r2.aspx