There are several new features that will be in SQL Server 2008 R2, which is due to be GA in May. As someone who implements on multiple platforms, I'm constantly comparing platform capabilities and consequently have a hard time getting too excited about releases, but R2 is giving me some reason to be excited.
Like many of SQL Server's R2 releases, it builds on its corresponding R1. SQL Server 2008 been commercially available since mid 2008. From a data warehousing perspective, SQL Server has long been a choice for data marts, regardless of the data warehouse platform. It has also been a data warehouse platform for the midmarket and occasionally a Fortune 100 company. Some of the scalability concerns that have limited SQL Server's reach may be being answered in R2 with the added support for 256 processors. This is quite a move up from 64 processors. Also improving scalability will be the acquired DataAllegro technology, rebranded Parallel Data Warehouse, Microsoft's data warehouse appliance.
What I am most interested in and excited about is Master Data Services, Microsoft's entry into the crowding master data management market. Microsoft is the first to make it a part of the DBMS package. They are clearly targeting the Microsoft shops that are having master data issues. I've had the CTP for some time (this is a worked over form of the product from Stratature, which Microsoft acquired in 2007) and have been able to exercise it and even see it implemented at a client. While its capabilities are limited compared to its more mature competition, it has a lot of potential. Microsoft will be putting strong development effort behind Master Data Services. Even today, it can certainly, with some effort, play the technical role in a MDM program.
And then there's Gemini or PowerPivot for Excel. Gemini is the new generation of Analysis Services. Those who chagrin at the notion that Microsoft Excel is the #1 business intelligence tool (it is) will have a lot more concern now. Bye-bye ProClarity interface. We must embrace Excel. I'm increasingly crafting procedures for IT's role with Excel and this need will only increase as Gemini will cause an even more fluid spreadsheet environment in shops. Data security strategies are imperative.
Gemini will also be a collaborative environment. Everyone in a workgroup can cooperate in managing Excel. Excel is certainly already mission critical and R2 will create even more possibilities to depend on Excel. The Gemini server is SharePoint, another element gaining traction in the SQL Server family.
I am also completely impressed with the addition of the columnar, in-memory storage option for this downloaded data, called VeriPaq. Some data just belongs in columnar, though most would not want to put all their data in this structure. It's great for data where a lot of columnar functions will be done to it, as well as generally for those queries that don't return a lot of columns. It's also great for compressing data. I have a seminar on columnar and expect to be helping more clients effectively tier their data to this format now that SQL Server will be utilizing the option.
So, are you ready? Are you on SQL Server 2008? Are you ready to upgrade to Office 2010 to take advantage of Gemini? SQL Server 2008 R2 will be one of the big BI stories of 2010.
Posted December 28, 2009 8:55 AM
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