Got questions about the new features in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2? Can’t wait for R2’s release date? Here’s the answers I’ve been giving out most often to database administrators wondering about the changes in SQL Server 2008 R2 vs SQL Server 2008.
What will be the SQL Server 2008 R2 release date?
SQL Server 2008 R2 will be released in May 2010. Despite it being released in the year 2010, it will not be called SQL Server 2010.
What’s the cost to upgrade to SQL 2008 R2?
If you’ve got Software Assurance for your SQL Server 2008 licensing, then you get all R2 updates included for free. If you don’t have SA, then you’ll need to decide whether the new features in SQL Server 2008 R2 vs SQL Server 2008 will be worth the cost of upgrading, because you won’t get SQL 2008 R2 for free. R2 is not considered a service pack.
What’s new, and what are the new features in SQL Server 2008 vs SQL Server 2008 R2?
From a very high level, here’s the new features in R2 that weren’t in 2008:
- Database Engine – not much new here. There’s some infrastructure introductions to support Data-Tier Applications in the future, but they’re not too useful as of the August CTP. I blogged about it in a 3-part series starting with this article about How SQL 2008 R2 is Like Virtualization for Databases. If you’ve heard the terms Utility Control Point, Utility Explorer, or SQL Server Utility, I’ve got your answers in that series.
- Business Intelligence – there’s a ton of new functionality for self-service BI in SQL Server Analysis Services 2008 R2. Excel 2010 will act as a client for SSAS. You can learn more about it in this screenshot-packed review of what’s new in Project Gemini and this pivot table tutorial for Project Gemini.
- Scale-Out Servers – if you need to scale a data warehouse beyond a single server, you’ll want to keep an eye on Project Madison. It’s the result of Microsoft’s acquisition of DATAllegro.
- T-SQL Enhancements – got nothin’ for you here. No new commands, no new data types, no new stored procedure goodies.
Will I need Visual Studio 2010 to edit DAC Packs?
Data-tier application projects, new with SQL 2008 R2, can’t be edited with SQL Server Management Studio. You’ll need the upcoming release of Visual Studio 2010 to create and edit .dacpac files.
Where can I download the SQL Server 2008 R2 CTP?
MSDN and Technet subscribers can download 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition now for free. Check in the SQL Server 2008 section of the download site, or click here to download SQL Server 2008 R2 for free. Keep in mind that this is a preview build, not a feature-compete beta. It should not be used in production. When databases are attached to a SQL 2008 R2 server, their version number is upgraded to 660, and these databases cannot be reattached to an older (SQL 2008) server.
How will SQL Server 2008 R2 licensing work for virtual servers?
R2’s licensing has an ugly change for shops who use virtualization. Right now, if you buy SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition now by the CPU, you get unlimited virtualization rights. If you’ve got a 4-socket virtual host and you buy 4 sockets of Enterprise Edition, you can run as many SQL Servers on that host as you want. From Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008 Licensing Guide:
“For enterprise edition there is an added option: if all physical processors in a machine have been licensed, then you may run unlimited instances of SQL server 2008 in one physical and an unlimited number of virtual operating environments on that same machine.”
You may not be running SQL Server widely in virtualization environments yet, but ask yourself how many SQL Server 2000 and 2005 instances you’re running today. SQL Server doesn’t just go away – the instances you install today will still be in production for years to come. They might not be virtualized today, but they’re gonna be virtual years from now, and today’s licensing saves you a fortune.
Microsoft sees that coming, and they’re changing it in R2. Review the SQL Server 2008 R2 Editions PDF and you’ll find that R2 Enterprise Edition doesn’t come with unlimited virtualization. To get that feature, you have to spring for the new Datacenter Edition, which costs around $60k per CPU socket.
If I was a DBA with a budget to buy SQL Server licenses this year, I’d make that purchase now. In May, Enterprise Edition’s price is going up, and it will have less licensed features. I’d buy it with Software Assurance anyway, so I’ll get R2’s new features if I want them. If I didn’t want those new features, I’d still have the flexibility of running unlimited SQL Server 2008 instances in virtualization.
Why isn’t the next version called SQL Server 2010?
Microsoft is following the precedent set with Windows Server 2003 R2, which added some features but wasn’t a groundbreaking change. SQL 2008 R2 does include some pretty cool stuff, but it doesn’t include major earth-shaking changes in the database engine itself.
Where can I read more about the new features and changes?
Here’s what I’ve written so far: