Microsoft To Preview SQL Server 2008 R2

Tech pros will soon have a chance to get their hands on the next version of Microsoft SQL Server, as the software maker said Wednesday that it plans to launch a "community technology preview" of the product this month.

The company did not disclose a specific date for the trial, but said qualified users would be able to download the preview version of SQL Server 2008 R2 at some point in November.

"Microsoft's vision is to deliver an information platform enabling all businesses to gain strategic value from information," said Ted Kummert, senior VP for Microsoft's Business Platform division, at an industry event in Seattle.

SQL Server 2008 offers a number of enhancements over the existing version of the database software, including more powerful business intelligence features, centralized monitoring and management tools for administrators, and support for hardware scaling across as many as 256 Intel (NSDQ: INTC) Itanium processors in some editions.

"Companies are looking to compete and grow by reducing costs and identifying the highest value opportunities for their business," said Kummert.

"We're moving forward rapidly to address these challenges with new capabilities in manageability, business intelligence, data warehousing and the first relational database cloud offering in SQL Azure," said Kummert.

Microsoft also introduced two new enterprise editions of SQL Server 2008 R2.

A Datacenter version offers maximum scalability for large application and database management workloads. The Parallel Data Warehouse edition is designed to house from tens to hundreds of terabytes of data on industry standard hardware from vendors such as Bull, Dell (Dell), HP (NYSE: HPQ), EMC (NYSE: EMC), and IBM (NYSE: IBM).

Both versions are priced at $57,498 per processor. SQL Server 2008 R2 is set to debut sometime in the first half of next year.

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