Microsoft has released the first in a series of test code drops for the next version of SQL Server.
The company has delivered the community technology preview (CTP) of its SQL Server R2 2008 to subscribers on the company's MSDN and TechNet communities.
Features include application and multi-server management, SMP scale for up to 256 logical processors, and a report builder that adds support for geospatial visualization.
The next version of Microsoft's flagship database will focus on business intelligence, the company said, with "self-service reporting" and "self-service analysis" through Project Gemini.
The project is designed to deliver self-service analysis through "deep integration" with Microsoft's SharePoint Server and Excel.
Microsoft promised what it called a "limited preview" of Gemini SharePoint and Excel add-ins the next few weeks.
Also coming this month, Microsoft said, will be a private CTP of Madison that Microsoft's building for massive data warehouses. Partners working on the final Madison product are Bull, Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, and Unisys.
Fast access to huge volumes of data is a growing trend in the database market. Microsoft last summer bought DataAllegro, which specialized in large-scale data analysis, to drive Madison - a move that put open-source database specialist Ingres' own plans for a massive data serving and searching architecture back a year.
A CTP of SQL for Microsoft's cloud infrastructure, Azure, was also promised in the coming weeks.
SQL Server 2008 R2 is planned for the first half of 2010. ®