The Windows Server Notebook

Nov 3 2009   9:15PM GMT

SQL Server 2008 R2 stars at PASS Summit 2009

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

The PASS Community Summit 2009 is being held in Seattle this week, and naturally a lot of attention is being given to Microsoft’s upcoming database releases, particularly SQL Server 2008 R2.

We’ve been doing a lot of PASS coverage recently, but for those interested, here are some quick hits on a few of the more noteworthy topics:

  • SQL Server 2008 R2 (formerly codenamed Kilimanjaro) is still set for general availability in the first half of 2010. A community technical preview (CTP) will be out this month.
  • There will be two new editions of SQL Server this time around. The first is SQL Server 2008 R2 Datacenter, which is designed to run with the data center edition of Windows Server 2008 R2. The second is SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse, formerly referred to as Project Madison. The latter will boost SQL Server data warehouses from a 10 TB limit (as is currently the case with SQL Server 2008) to potentially hundreds of TBs.
  • Microsoft’s long developed Project Gemini has been officially redubbed PowerPivot for Excel and SharePoint. It is designed to create a self-service BI solution for customers, and will ship in the same timeframe as SQL Server 2008 R2.
  • Master Data Services is another big R2 feature that’s starting to get a lot of attention. It comes from Microsoft’s acquisition of Stratature from a while back, and is a completely new BI service to go along with returning favorites SSRS, SSIS and SSAS.
  • The CTP for SQL Azure Database is currently out and free to try. Microsoft won’t start charging for it until January 1, 2010. I did a Q&A recently with Brent Ozar that shed a lot of light on Microsoft’s cloud strategy, as well as cloud computing in general.

One thing we’ve found is that despite all the hoopla surrounding SQL Server 2008 R2, most organizations haven’t even started running SQL Server 2008 yet. Why? The consensus is that they are simply happy with their current version (SQL Server 2005), and have no immediate plans to upgrade off of it.

Microsoft has made a lot of improvements to help with database consolidation and virtualization, but virtualizing SQL Server is still considered more of a challenge than with other applications, even despite enhancements with SQL Server 2008. And the cloud? Forget about it; it’s still years away for most companies.

My guess is that BI will be the main draw when it comes to upgrading off of SQL Server 2005, but who knows when that will be. What are your organizations plans for upgrading to SQL Server 2008 or R2? Sound off below.

For more news and information from PASS Summit 2009, visit

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