Inside R2's Datacenter, Parallel DW Editions

Lots of data processing requires superpowers. These editions of SQL Server can deliver it.

I told you about SQL Server 2008 R2's new and extended management features. Let me step back and tell you about two new premium editions to this server re-release, as well as highlight the slight changes to the existing editions.

First off, the new premium editions are Datacenter and Parallel Data Warehouse.

Datacenter is built on the Enterprise edition, but adds several key features intended for large application support. For example, Datacenter supports up to 256 logical processors, RAM up to the operating system max, and multi-server management capabilities for over 25 instances of SQL Server (Enterprise is limited to 25 instances). All of the most advanced virtualization scenarios are supported on Datacenter, and Datacenter supports Microsoft's new complex event processing (CEP) platform, SQL Server StreamInsight. StreamInsight is an application platform that allows high-throughput stream processing built on the .NET Framework.

The Parallel Data Warehouse Edition is exactly as the name sounds; SQL Server designed for high-capacity data warehousing applications. This edition was designed to house hundreds of Terabytes of data using the massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture. This means that SQL Server can be spread across multiple hosts, and can process queries against a distributed data set, allowing for much improved data warehousing query performance. Star Join queries and Change Data Capture are also supported, as well as the popular hub and spoke architecture.

Now for changes to the existing editions: Many of the products' new features, such as PowerPivot for SharePoint and Master Data Services are located in Enterprise Edition. However, Standard Edition now includes a previously Enterprise only feature, backup compression. This popular functionality works great in SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition, but was in many cases not enough of a driver to get most organizations to choose Enterprise Edition over Standard Edition. Now backup compression is available in Standard R2, so many shops will be able to take advantage of this feature, and eliminate third-party backup compression tools. Standard Edition can also be managed by the Application and Multi-Server Management capabilities in R2, but only Enterprise Edition supports the management components.

And that's a good overview of the editions in SQL Server 2008 R2. As the release gets closer (May 2010, as of this writing), most organizations should be evaluating the new features to see if they align to current needs, as SQL Server 2008 R2 might be a major upgrade for some. Plus, SQL Server 2008 will officially exit mainstream support on April 13 this year. And if you're on SQL Server 2005 (SP2), you're already out of luck -- mainstream support ended Jan. 12. If you're in the latter group, even more you should start thinking about migrating to SQL Server 2008 R2. Good luck!

About the Author

Joshua Jones is co-author of A Developer's Guide to Data Modeling for SQL Server: Covering SQL Server 2005 and 2008 (Addison-Wesley Professional, 2008) and is a principal with Denver-based Consortio Services LLC.