Microsoft Readies New SQL Server Database Release

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Wednesday Microsoft said SQL Server 2008 R2 had been released to manufacturing, the last step in Microsoft's product development process when a new product's code is locked down and the software is made ready for general availability.

The database, which updates the current SQL Server 2008 release that shipped in August 2008, will be available for TechNet and MSDN subscribers on May 3 and will be generally available May 13.

More than 300,000 copies of the community technology preview of the new release were downloaded, according to Microsoft, and more than 2,000 ISVs have signaled their intention to build applications on the R2 release.

Two of the most significant new components of the database release, known until now by the code name "Kilimanjaro," are its Master Data Services master data management tools for maintaining data consistency across heterogeneous systems; and StreamInsight, which Microsoft said supports large-scale, complex stream-processing applications.

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With the new self-service BI capabilities, called PowerPivot, data from outside sources can be brought into the database using such Microsoft tools as Excel 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 for analysis.

SQL Server 2008 R2, "is a big step forward in transforming how the IT department, the software developers, and end users interact and gain insight from data," said Ted Kummert, corporate vice president in Microsoft's data and storage platform division, in a statement.

The Datacenter Edition of the new release, running on Windows Server 2008 R2, can handle bigger workloads through its support for up to 256 logical processors. Microsoft also said the software can be used in a private cloud environment for improved availability and scalability.

SQL Server 2008 R2 offers businesses a path to cloud computing through the database's use of Microsoft SQL Azure, a cloud-based service with data storage capabilities. The use of the service in combination with the new PowerPivot makes it easier for users to combine data from public and private data sources for analysis, Microsoft said.