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Microsoft SQL Server 2012 is nearly here…

2012 will be an exciting year for all of us who utilise the broad features of the SQL Server platform.

A few weeks ago, Microsoft made available the release candidate (RC0) of SQL Server 2012 (previously known as Denali).  The release candidate term is used when a product is considered “production ready” – feature and code complete and in a form that can be released, unless fatal defects emerge.  The next stage is 'release to manufacturing' (RTM) which is currently touted for Q1 2012.  The RC0 release enables the Intergen team to continue to build on the knowledge gained from utilising the CTP releases.

As we have come to expect from the Microsoft SQL Server team, the three CTP (Community Technology Preview) releases have been of a high standard and have been continually improved.  The CTP releases have been downloaded by more than 100,000 people who have been actively providing stability and feature requests over the past year to help shape the product that we see in the RC0 release. 

SQL Server 2012 is a major release: there are many new features in this release that will continue to position this platform product as world-class.  To summarise the major themes of this release, the SQL Server team have outlined below what they believe is the core value proposition:

  • Greater availability. Deliver the required 9s and data protection with AlwaysOn, delivering added functionality that allows customers to experience multiple, readable secondaries for distributed scale of reporting and backup workloads, and support for FileTable and FILESTREAM which brings first-class high availability to complex data types.
  • Blazing-fast performance. More effectively govern performance in multi-tenancy environments like private cloud. Resource Governor enhancements include support for 64 resource pools, greater CPU usage control, and resource pool affinity for partitioning of physical resources and predictable resource allocation.
  • Rapid data exploration. Empower end users with new insights through rapid data exploration and visualisation. Discover new insights at the speed of thought with more feature/functionality in Power View, the highly interactive, familiar browser-based data exploration, visualisation, and presentation experience for end users.
  • Credible, consistent data. In addition to Data Quality Services and Master Data Services, customers can better support heterogeneous data within Data Warehouses through new Change Data Capture (CDC) support for Oracle.
  • Optimised productivity. Optimise IT and developer productivity across server and cloud with the new SQL Server Data Tools, a unified development experience for database and business intelligence projects, and cloud-ready capabilities within SQL Server Management Studio for snapshot backups to the Windows Azure Platform. Additionally, SQL Server 2012 offers a new version of Express – LocalDB. SQL Express LocalDB is a lightweight version of Express with all its programmability features, yet runs in user mode with a fast, zero-configuration installation and short list of prerequisites.

Of interest as well to us is that Microsoft is eliminating three of its current SKUs when it launches SQL Server 2012, standardising on three main editions: Standard, Business Intelligence and Enterprise (alongside the Developer, Express and Compact editions).  Note that Microsoft presents the Web edition as an available edition, but this is only available to organisations that sign a Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) and this edition will no longer be available to enterprises.

The differences between the three main editions can be summarised as follows:

  • Standard Edition offers “basic database, reporting and analytics capabilities.”
  • Business Intelligence Edition includes all of the Standard Edition’s capabilities, plus Power View (code name “Crescent”), reporting and analytics, data quality services and master data services. 
  • Enterprise Edition includes all the Standard and BI features, plus the “AlwaysOn” high-availability, ColumnStore data warehousing functionality, and “Maximum virtualisation” (for users with Software Assurance licenses). Enterprise has a 20-core maximum, while the Business Intelligence and Standard editions support a maximum of 16 cores. 

A detailed breakdown of what features are supported by what edition can be found here

Aside from the revamped line of product editions, the biggest licensing change for SQL Server 2012 is Microsoft's shift from counting processors and moving toward a core- (and virtual core-) based approach for SQL Server Standard and Enterprise editions.

As mentioned above, SQL Server 2012 is a major release with a large number of new features and enhancements.  To help you understand the relevance and benefit of these new features to your organisation, both from a technical and business perspective, from January the Intergen team will start posting a range of blogs covering in detail the following high-level categories:

  • Database Engine - including topics such as high availability, management and security, scalability and performance, programmability and SQL Azure (SQL Server in the cloud)
  • Business Intelligence - including topics such as Analysis Services, Integration Services, Visualisation, BI Semantic model and programmability
  • Enterprise Information Management - including Data Quality Services and Master Data Services
  • Developer tools – the standardisation of a single developer experience delivered through SQL Server Data Tools

If you would like to find out more about any of these areas, or have specific questions, please leave a comment or contact us.

Posted by: Tim Mole | 21 December 2011

Tags: Information Management, Business Intelligence, Data Mining, Data Visualisation, SQL Server, SQL Server 2012

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