Finalised and released to manufacturing (RTM'd) today is Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2.
You can download the free version - SQL Server 2008 R2 Express from here.
Other editions of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 will be available to download for TechNet and MSDN subscribers from 3 May, with broad availability coming 13 May.
Note, it is expected that with this release prices will rise on the 'Per Processor' licenses of SQL Server by between 15% - 25%. It is therefore recommended to purchase any new licenses you require immediately before prices change.
Though the per processor license costs are increasing it is likely to cost much less to run SQL Server now than 5-years ago as Microsoft treat even 8-core and 12-core CPUs as just needing a single license. Therefore companies that in the past might have needed numerous SQL processor licenses may in many cases now get away with a single processor license for a particular server if it has a high density multi-core CPU.
Key enhancements in this release include the following:
- Managed self-service business intelligence (BI) for reporting and analysis
- Enterprise-class scalability and greater IT efficiency
- Platform integration spanning the datacenter to the cloud
How's the highlights broken down by Microsoft:
Managed Self-Service Business Intelligence for Reporting and Analysis
"Customers continue to receive and create increasing amounts of data, as information impacts their business and social lives. Our goal is to help customers extract value and business insight from that information, whether it is stored locally on their PC, in a datacenter or in the cloud," said Ted Kummert, senior vice president of the Business Platform Division at Microsoft. "Today's release of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 is a big step forward in transforming how the IT department, the software developers, and end users interact and gain insight from data."
With the release of SQL Server 2008 R2, Microsoft is introducing powerful new managed self-service BI capabilities, bridging the gap between IT professionals and end users by leveraging familiar tools such as Microsoft Excel 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. With the new BI technology named PowerPivot, end users can bring data from virtually anywhere and manipulate large datasets with ease while still enabling IT to monitor and manage user-generated BI solutions.
"SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel aligns well with our strategic plan of making it easier to empower bank staff with pervasive business intelligence," said Ken Christie, chief financial officer, Bank of New Zealand. "Eventually we'll promote the new SQL Server BI capabilities, including PowerPivot for SharePoint Server 2010, to a much wider audience. The BI capabilities of SQL Server 2008 R2 are a big step forward, and we know that many departments can benefit from the insights gained by using the PowerPivot tools."
Enterprise-Class Scalability and Greater IT Efficiency
With this release Microsoft continues to focus on critical datacenter needs, enabling businesses to create a highly available infrastructure that is more secure and easier to manage. Recent benchmarks show that SQL Server 2008 R2 has raised the bar in performance on industry-standard hardware. With the introduction of SQL Server 2008 R2 Datacenter edition, in combination with Windows Server 2008 R2, customers can now run databases on systems with up to 256 logical processors, and move to a virtualized datacenter with Hyper-V and Live Migration support. These two releases will help customers move to a private cloud infrastructure that is highly available, consolidated and virtualized and that scales on demand.
Many customers look to Microsoft to provide technology for their most mission-critical applications.
"At Premier Bankcard, corporate data is one of our largest assets, so our database system priorities are performance, data quality, data security and high availability," said Ron Van Zanten, directing officer of Business Intelligence at Premier Bankcard LLC. "We have over 100 SQL Server installations, including a data warehouse and OLTP and imaging systems, with a total of around 40 terabytes of managed data. These are mission-critical systems that require 24x7 availability and performance that is measured in milliseconds. The enhanced database mirroring in SQL Server 2008 R2 helps protect our data against corruption or in the event of a hardware failure. Additionally, SQL Server 2008 R2 application and multiserver management will be our path to improved productivity without needing to add DBAs, with easy setup and policy-based evaluation of our servers that help us deliver the optimum performance and availability we need."
Additional key enhancements in this release include two new components of Microsoft's information platform: SQL Server 2008 R2 Master Data Services, which helps customers drive better data consistency across heterogeneous systems, and SQL Server 2008 R2 StreamInsight, which supports high-scale complex event-stream processing.
With the upcoming availability of SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse, customers will be able to scale-out their data warehouses from tens to hundreds of terabytes. SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse will be offered as an appliance in several configurations through select hardware providers.
Platform Integration: Spanning the Datacenter to the Cloud
SQL Server 2008 R2 also represents a further commitment from Microsoft to the cloud. The power of SQL Server is extending to the cloud through Microsoft SQL Azure, which provides a consistent programming model, common capabilities and tools while offering new business opportunities, high availability, self-management and massive scale through distributed cloud data services. Microsoft's recent preview release of the service code-named "Dallas" enables customers to have access to rich new datasets from companies such as Pitney Bowes Inc., NASA and the Associated Press Online. With the capabilities in PowerPivot for Excel, combining private and public datasets for deeper analysis and business insight is much easier. SQL Server 2008 R2 delivers a complete approach to managing, accessing and delivering information across the organization.
(I am now posting latest updates via twitter.com/paulspain)
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