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Microsoft Demos New SQL Server Features at PASS

Microsoft today previewed the ability to centrally manage applications and resources in the planned upgrade of SQL Server, code-named "Kilimanjaro."

The company introduced the centralized app and system management capability at the annual Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Conference, being held this week in Seattle. Though PASS is an independent user association, Microsoft typically has a strong presence at its annual conferences because of the large number of SQL Server customers and partners that attend.

The Kilimanjaro preview was among a handful of incremental announcements at PASS this week, where Microsoft is focusing on convincing customers to upgrade to SQL Server 2008.

In the keynote address, Ted Kummert, corporate vice president of Microsoft's data and storage platform division, highlighted the new centralized app and systems management capability as the latest component in the company's effort to further bolster SQL Server as a platform for data warehousing and enterprise scale application development.

With Kilimanjaro, planned for release in the first half of 2010, customers will be able to consolidate data sources and increase the amount of information in the repository without degrading performance, according to the company.

Microsoft first outlined its most current SQL Server roadmap last month at its Business Intelligence (BI) Conference, also held in Seattle, where the company described Kilimanjaro as the next key update to SQL Server 2008. In an interview Tuesday in advance of Kummert's keynote, Quentin Clark, general manager of Microsoft's SQL Server group, said Kilimanjaro is not the next version of SQL Server; that will come within 36 months of the release of SQL Server 2008, which shipped this past summer.

"Kilimanjaro is really an add-on kind of release. It's not really a major release, it's not a new database," Clark said. "We will do bug fixes and other minor stuff but it's not a major release of the database engine."

That said, Clark acknowledged that the engine in SQL Server will be improved with Kilimanjaro. At the Windows Engineering Hardware Conference (WinHEC) in Los Angeles earlier this month, Clark demonstrated support for systems with more than 64 cores.

Microsoft said it is working with Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and Intel for Kilimanjaro to support up to 256 logical processors running on the next release of Windows Server, called Windows Server 2008 R2.

In its bid to enable massive parallel processing in SQL Server, Microsoft has also begun talking up a technology under development, code-named "Madison." Slated for release during the Kilimanjaro timeframe, Microsoft said Madison, based on the technology it acquired in September from DATAllegro, will let organizations scale data warehouses to hundreds of terabytes. Microsoft said it will have a preview of Madison within the next 12 months.

A key component under development that will support Kilimanjaro are new tools under the code name "Gemini," which Microsoft unveiled at its October BI summit and outlined for PASS attendees. The goal of Gemini is to let a broader set of users manipulate data without relying on BI or IT experts.

Also at PASS, Microsoft officials talked up SQL Data Services (SDS), announced as part of its cloud services portfolio at last month's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles.

The company announced customers who are beta testing SDS, among them NeoGeo, a German-based developer of database and storage solutions, and Infosys Technologies Ltd., a global provider of outsourcing services. NeoGeo is testing SDS for what it hopes will be a low-cost, cloud-based relational storage repository, while Infosys is building a service that could let car dealers share information online using SDS.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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