At a rather muted Microsoft TechEd in Los Angeles in May, the crowds were diminished and the educational content was slimmed down. In the past, SQL Server sessions were so abundant that you'd have trouble choosing which of several you might want to attend. This year, the state of the economy was reflected in many ways, including the one, or, in just a few cases, two sessions per time slot allotted SQL Server professionals. Despite the low ebb, the Microsoft SQL Server team made an exciting announcement about the upcoming availability of the SQL Server 2008 R2 CTP (Community Technology Preview).
The Microsoft SQL Server development team is sticking to their promise to maintain a rather aggressive schedule of a new product release every 24 to 36 months. A subtext to the release schedule of SQL Server is the way Microsoft has released new features before releasing a new version of the product. In years past, Microsoft introduced new features in major service pack releases. This policy provoked some backlash in the community, because many large IT shops want their service packs to contain only fixes and patches, not new features. Microsoft answered this complaint with Rx designation. SQL Server 2008 R2 has many new features and enhancements, but obviates the issue of mixing bug fixes with new features.
So, here's a quick rundown of the new features and enhancements in SQL Server 2008 R2:
- Supports > 64 logical processors
- Improvements in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), including new server discovery, utilization dashboards, and even easier policy-based management
- Improvements in integration with Visual Studio
- New methods of centralizing, deploying, cleansing, and managing master data with Master Data Services (MDS), formerly called "Project Bulldog"
- Enhanced direct stewardship of data through new "stewardship portal"
- Incredibly easy self-service BI analysis features, formerly called "Project Gemini"
- Ø Quick integration with Excel 2010, SharePoint 2010, and a new SharePoint 2010 Management Console
- Improvements to Reporting Services, including easier authoring and ad hoc reporting, support for more data types, better control and management of reports
To read a concise overview of the features in SQL Server 2008 R2 and register for the CTP, go to http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/r2.aspx. In addition, I found the MDS offerings to be less well known or understood among the DBA and SQL Server developers I talked to. You can learn more about MDS, in particular, as well as find learning resources for master data management, in general, at http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/MDS.aspx.
So, take a few moments and get to know the newest features in SQL Server 2008 R2 to determine whether it's right for your environment.