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Next-generation SQL Server hits with codenames galore

It sounds like Microsoft has found another mountain to climb, and this one makes “Kilimanjaro” look … well, slightly closer to sea level.

The company announced the next version of SQL Server at PASS Summit 2010 this week, codenamed “Denali”. The moniker follows Yukon (SQL Server 2005) and Kilimanjaro (SQL Server 2008) as the latest Microsoft database server to be named after mountainous terrain. (Fun fact: Kilimanjaro stands at an elevation of 19,341 feet, while Denali – aka Mount McKinley – clocks in at just over 20,300 feet. Wouldn’t it have been funny if the next version of SQL Server was actually “shorter” than the last?)

Denali was the highlight of a keynote address that also featured the release of SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse edition, a super-scalable (and super-pricey) warehousing appliance that wasn’t ready when R2 officially dropped back in May. The first community technical preview (CTP) for Denali is now available at the Microsoft site.

Whereas business intelligence highlighted the R2 release, high availability looks to be one of the major themes with Denali. One new feature is called SQL Server AlwaysOn, which according to Microsoft will “provide a set of capabilities to help businesses maximize uptime of their mission critical applications, simplify high availability deployments and provide better returns on hardware investments.” SQL Server Magazine reports that Denali is based on an infrastructure designed to deliver the characteristics of traditional HA options like database mirroring, clustering and log shipping.

But that’s not all Microsoft unveiled about the release, as other reported codenamed features include:

  • Crescent – a new data visualization tool for Microsoft’s PowerPivot.
  • Apollo – new column-store technology designed to speed up database queries.
  • Juneau – an advanced development tool a la Visual Studio that will help with the development of cloud-based apps (naturally).

Though not a Denali feature, Microsoft senior vice president Ted Kummert also talked about a new cloud-centric service currently dubbed “Atlanta”. Information Week’s Doug Henschen describes it as a service designed “to oversee SQL Server configurations, suggesting best practices and proactively avoiding configuration problems with step-by-step guidance.”

My colleague Barney Beal writes that Denali got the biggest reaction from the crowd during the keynote, which is no surprise. Even though SQL Server 2008 R2 was released in May, it’s clear that Microsoft intends to continue cranking out new versions of its database server. Whereas SQL Server 2005 was over five years in the making, SQL Server 2008 dropped only three years later, with R2 following less than 24 months after that. Now it looks like the next version is further along than some might have thought. As I wrote on Twitter earlier, maybe Microsoft should slow down – they’re running out of mountains.

For more on Denali and the latest news on Microsoft SQL Server, visit

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