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SQL Server To Get Real-Time Boost

The next release of Microsoft's SQL Server database, code-named "Kilimanjaro," will offer master data management (MDM) and support real-time data feeds for business intelligence (BI), reporting and analytics, the company revealed today.

Microsoft will release by year's end a community technology preview (CTP) of Kilimanjaro, which it officially re-christened SQL Server 2008 R2, according to company officials at this week's Tech-Ed conference in Los Angeles.

The addition of MDM (which is often described as providing "a single version of the truth") and complex event processing for providing real-time data feeds are in keeping with Microsoft's stated goal to make BI more pervasive.

Microsoft had already disclosed that SQL Server 2008 R2 would offer self-service BI through a new feature, code-named "Project Gemini," which allows individuals to pull data from multiple data sources, then manipulate and -- though Excel and SharePoint -- share that data. Likewise, the company had already said SQL Server 2008 R2 will allow for self-service reporting.

Master Data Services and complex event processing (CEP) were key features Microsoft still lacked and are the cornerstone of other enterprise data warehouse providers such as IBM, Oracle, SAP, Sybase and Teradata, according to Forrester Research analyst James Kobielus.

"True real-time BI means sub-second updates direct from the source and Microsoft doesn't have that capability yet," Kobielus said, pointing out that Microsoft does offer near-real-time BI through the Change Data Capture (CDC) feature in the current version of SQL Server 2008.

Master Data Services comes from technology Microsoft acquired from Stratature two years ago. At the time, Microsoft had intended to integrate Stratature's MDM technology into SharePoint. But Microsoft has since decided to integrate it into SQL Server, said Fausto Ibarra, Microsoft's SQL Server product director. "We thought it was better to make it part of the platform," he said.

As for the CEP functionality, Ibarra said Microsoft has been developing that internally. Kobielus said he has seen both CEP and Master Data Services demonstrated and believes Microsoft will be a viable competitor in real-time data warehousing. "It's not vapor, it really works," he said.

Ibarra said Microsoft is not yet disclosing pricing or packaging information for the two new SQL Server features. While Master Data Services will appear in the CTP later this year, it's not yet clear whether the CEP engine will make that release.

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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