Friday, December 11, 2009

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.

Object-Relational Mapper Supports Microsoft's Cloud

In November, Telerik Inc. was the first third-party vendor to offer what the company describes as complete object-relational mapping (ORM) support for SQL Azure. Telerik acquired Vanetek of Germany and its OpenAccess ORM product-a full-featured ORM platform-in December 2008.

Microsoft officially launched the Windows Azure Platform-which includes SQL Azure, essentially SQL Server in the cloud-at its Professional Developers Conference 2009 last month.

"People can use our ORM tool just as if they were working with SQL Server today locally in their office," says Todd Anglin, a Microsoft MVP and Telerik's chief evangelist. "They can forward map, reverse map and-as they say in Entity Framework language-use the Model First, Schema First approach to developing databases. They can do it all directly against the database in the cloud, so this is a huge step forward for developers looking at developing with the cloud."

OpenAccess ORM supports the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0, 3.0 and 3.5, and requires Telerik's Visual Studio 2008 wizards and other tooling.

"It's a popular alternative to the Entity Framework, which in its current version has a number of issues. It's tough to configure," explains Anglin.

Telerik will continue to look at different approaches to help developers move data in and out of their applications more easily in the cloud and platforms like Silverlight, according to Anglin. "OpenAccess is the foundation for that," he says.

OpenAccess ORM with support for SQL Azure is part of Telerik's Premium Collection for .NET Q3 2009 release. The entire collection is available now for $1,299 per developer seat. The products are also sold separately.

–Kathleen Richards

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.

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