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Microsoft Releases SQL Server 'Denali' Preview

By Stuart J. Johnston (Send Email)
Posted Nov 10, 2010


Microsoft gave out the first community technology preview (CTP) copies of the next generation of its SQL Server enterprise database product -- codenamed Denali -- to developers gathered in Seattle for the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Summit 2010, Tuesday. When Microsoft showed off "Denali" at the PASS conference in Seattle this week, it wasn't the Alaskan mountain they were talking about. Instead, it was about a mountain of data.

Besides the CTP, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced general availability of SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW). PASS is an independent, not-for-profit, SQL Server organization.

SQL Server 2008 R2 PDW provides a massively parallel processing architecture that is pre-tuned and preconfigured for the customer's needs, according to Microsoft.

PDW will be available with a choice of hardware, beginning with appliances from HP. Microsoft said that other manufacturers, including Bull, also plan to do so in the future. HP's plans to begin shipping appliances next month.

The company also announced what it calls the Microsoft Critical Advantage Program (MCAP).

"MCAP provides appliance customers with an end-to-end suite of pretested hardware and software configurations, services and support, all designed to make customers' business more efficient, cost-effective, risk-resistant and competitive," the Microsoft statement said. "The program ... also includes a mission-critical support option with 30-minute response times, an escalation manager, a service delivery plan, enhanced critical situation process and a dedicated support engineer."

Meanwhile, new availability features in Denali provide SQL Server AlwaysOn, which supports multi-site clustering. An "availability group" option supports multiple secondary servers. Another new feature is a column-based query accelerator that the company said improves query response times by approximately 10-fold.

Denali also features new tools, codenamed Juneau, that let developers work on databases, business intelligence, and Web solutions all within a common development environment, the company said.

"[Further, Denali provides] a project codenamed Crescent, [which is] a new Web-based data visualization and reporting tool that extends PowerPivot," the company statement said.

Finally, Microsoft announced changes to the company's Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) for SQL Server certification program. Previously, candidates for the certification had to spend $18,500 on three weeks of training to take the tests. Now, candidates can take the tests without first taking the classes.

In addition, the number of tests has been cut from four to two and the cost to take them to $2,500, while the locations for taking the tests have been expanded from a single site (Microsoft's headquarters) to multiple sites.

The Denali CTP1 is currently available for download.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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