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Microsoft plots SQL Server 2010

Microsoft’s database folks say that SQL Server 2010 (yes, that’s the shocking name of the next release) will make it out in the 36-month window the company has prescribed for database releases.  It’s promised for the first half of Calendar Year 2010. SQL Server 2008 shipped last August.

“We remain committed to the 24- to 36-month schedule” of upgrades, said Tom Casey, general manager for SQL Server. Internally, the product has gone under the code name Kilimanjaro. A CTP is promised for the next year.

In addition, there will be an update to the current SQL Server 2008, adding better data warehousing capability from Microsoft’s acquisition last July of DATAllegro. That update will be demonstrated at the Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference in Seattle this week. Those scalability enhancements known as Project Madison, should also be available in the first half of 2010.  Pricing and packagine remain TBD.

SQL Server 2010 will focus on what the company calls “managed self service” with new reporting tools. Microsoft promises with this release to make it easier for users to pull data from various sources, but make all that work traceable by IT. “All of that activity used to happen off the books. IT was not trackable or auditable,” Casey said. What’s new here is new in-memory features that will let users pull all that data into Excel, lay out out tables and charts with clickable elements,” he noted.

On the IT side, Microsoft promises more oversight in that all of that diverse data will be stored centrally for use by authorized users and IT can grant or deny permissions as needed. All of the aforementioned capability would require the use of the latest Excel 2007 and the new SQL Server. All of these BI self-service perks and oversight are lumped under the code name Gemini.

Boris Evelson, principal analyst for business intelligence at Forrester Research, said the additional scale provided by DataAllegro was sorely needed. “They always said SQL Server was ‘good enough’ for big, big databases vs. Oracle and DB2 but in reality, when you go beyond a couple terabytes, you’d look at something else. DataAllegro wraps SQL Server up in scalability and partitioning and all the other buzzwords to make it much more scalable,” he noted.

He said some of the in-memory work Microsoft is doing with Excel and SQL Server will enable both power and casual users to do more reports on the fly, without involving IT.

“It’s all about self service. We always run to IT when we do analysis and even when we can create a new report or do our own sort, we are still limited by the underlying data model,” Evelson added

Microsoft is prepping in-memory vs. disk-based processing for these tasks, so reports can be done on the fly. This capability is new to Microsoft, but not new overall, Evelson pointed out.

Microsoft would not comment on’s recent disclosure that it was adding Windows and SQL Server as supported software on its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). But spokesmen referred questioners to the upcoming Professional Developers Conference in Las Angeles. Microsoft has been testing SQL Server Data Services, which runs in its own Windows-centric universe.

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