What’s New in SQL Server 2008 R2

SQL Server 2008 R2 aka Kilmajaro is due for release on May 6th, 2010 and is a much more Business Intelligence focused release. It has a bunch of new features as well as a number of improvements to existing features.

What’s New?

There are three main new features which we’ll take a look at here:

Master Data Services:

This is a “database, configuration tool, Web application, and Web service” that is used to “manage your organization’s master data and maintain an auditable record of that data as it changes over time”. This can then serve up the data for BI & Reporting tools such as Sharepoint, SSRS, SAP Crystal Reports etc for use around the business.

For information on architecture, deployment, security and more, see here. A great getting started guide can be found here

PowerPivot for Sharepoint

“Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for SharePoint extends SharePoint 2010 and Excel Services to add server-side processing, collaboration, and document management support for the PowerPivot workbooks that you publish to SharePoint”.

PowerPivot enables Excel workbooks to easily work with over 1,000,000 rows of data and still perform quick calculations…see my other post here.

3 tier diagram of client, middle, backend add-ins

.A great MSDN look at PowerPivot for Sharepoint can be found here.

Multi-Server Administration and Data-Tier Application:

This “forms a central repository for performance data and management policies that tailor the operation of instances of the Database Engine”. It also includes the ability to connect to a SQL Azure Database.

More info on the manageability side of SQL 2008 R2 is here.

What’s Enhanced?

SQL Server Reporting Services (SRSS) have been given a huge boost in SQL 2008 R2, to help bring them closer to dedicated Business Intelligence platforms such as SAP Business Objects Crystal Reports Servers and Business Object EDGE.

Sharepoint Integration: New features include:

  • Support for multiple Sharepoint Zones
  • New Data extension
  • Query designer for Sharepoint Lists as a data source
  • Right to Left text w/Arabic  & Hebrew

and more. You can now use data held in lists inside Sharepoint and include that in your reports, for more info head over to Getting Data from a SharePoint List Data Source Type (Report Builder 3.0).

Report Parts: This is a great feature which allows you store parts of reports on the server, to be re-used by you (or others) at a later date. This means if you’ve got someone who’s awesome at making charts, they can pre-create them and load them up on the server for the benefit of the rest of the team/business 🙂

Report Part Publishing LifeCycle:


You can publish the following report parts:

  • Charts
  • Gauges
  • Images and embedded images
  • Maps
  • Parameters
  • Rectangles
  • Tables
  • Matrices
  • Lists
  • This makes it quite similar to SAP Xcelsius but I don’t think it is as fully featured and also, and perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t seem anywhere near as end user friendly.

    MSDN have got more info on Report Part Publishing here.

    Wrap Up:

    I hope this has gone some way to explaining some of the new features of SQL Server 2008 R2 and that it helped show how these can help you and your business 🙂
    The full MSDN article with almost literally 100’s of how to’s, guides and FAQ’s is here:


    A deeper look @ PowerPivot

    PowerPivot for Excel

    PowerPivot for Excel supports self-service business intelligence in the following ways.

    • Current row-and-column limitations in Excel are removed so that you can import much more data. This goes far beyond 1,000,000 rows!
    • A data relationship layer lets you integrate data from different sources and work with all of the data holistically. You can enter data, copy data from other worksheets, or import data from corporate databases. You can build relationships among the data to analyze it as if it all originated from a single source.
    • Create portable, reusable data. Data stays inside the workbook. You do not need manage external data connections. If you publish, move, copy, or share a workbook, all the data goes with it.
    • PowerPivot data is fully and immediately available to the rest of the workbook. You can switch between Excel and PowerPivot windows to work on the data and its presentation in PivotTables or charts in an interactive fashion. Working on data or on its presentation are not separate tasks. You work on both together in the same Excel environment.

    PowerPivot lets users build relationships between completely different data sources and still have all the data held entirely within the workbook.

    Try it out:

    You can download PowerPivot for Excel here. Note: It requires Office 2010 beta.


    3 tier diagram of client, middle, backend add-ins


    PowerPivot for Sharepoint:

    “PowerPivot for SharePoint adds services and infrastructure for loading and unloading PowerPivot data”. The PowerPivot System Service tracks usage of PowerPivot workbooks across the app servers on the farm and deals with “setting up new connections to data that is already loaded in memory, and caching or unloading data if it is no longer used or when there is contention for system resources.” It then presents server health and usage data in reports, enabling admins to see how well the system is performing.

    Excel Services renders the Presentation layer of a Pivot workbook  while the Analysis Services instances detect, extract and process the Pivot data. Here’s a diagram showing how a query request is processed:

    Data processing request diagram

    You can see a full overview over on the MSDN site here.

    Try it out:

    You can download PowerPivot for Sharepoint here. Note: It requires the CTP of SQL 2008 R2  AND Sharepoint 2010 beta.

    Installing PowerPivot for Sharepoint

    There are a number of pre-requisites and steps to installing the product, and they can all be found here:


    Microsoft Project Madison

    Project Madison is a new Data Warehousing solution from Microsoft, born out of their purchase of DATAllegro in August 2008. It is a:

    “highly scalable data warehouse appliance that delivers performance at low cost through a massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture.”

    It’s official name is “Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse” (I’d have kept Madison myself) and it’s aim is to make Datacenters easily scalable from “Terabytes to Petabytes”.

    Massively Parallel Processing (MPP)

    Most traditional architectures are Symmetric Multi-Processing. This means that all the queries are processed in one physical instance of the database; so CPU, Memory & storage limitations of the box all limit the speed & scale of the implementation.

    Madison and it’s MPP approach get around that nicely as large tables are partitioned over multiple physical nodes. Each node has it’s own CPU, Storage and Memory and it’s own running instance of SQL Server…this is a patented approach known as “Ultra Shared Nothing” 🙂 Everything is mirrored as well for HA and redundancy.


    It’s use of Industry Standard hardware helps keep the costs down and gives a much lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) that current DW (Data Warehousing) offerings. If you need to scale you can simply buy some more server (HP DL380’s, IBM Xwhatever’s etc) and add them into the environment…no more needing to purchase a whole new appliance and write off the previous one. Definitely a good point for CFO’s and their kind 🙂


    Madison’s approach to data storage makes it quicker, more reliable & more responsive to the needs of a business; or even to the needs of individual dept’s within a business. If you have multiple separate but related companies under a single umbrella (or you’re a big enterprise that has internal departments the same size as a small company!) Madison is definitely something you should take a look at.


    Here, each Business Unit has it’s own Data Mart making it easier, quicker and cheaper for them to store and access their data, but a single “Golden” copy of data in the central reservoir resolves many issues. There is also great high availability here as Spokes or hubs can back each other up.


    This next image does a great job of showing the difference between Madison and current DW solutions:


    Much more flexible 🙂 It’s also going to be fast, one example I saw was:

    “625K rows returned in 11 seconds from 1 trillion row table”

    That’s amazing!


    You can see in the diagram below that it plugs into Office and also “BI Tools”, which surely is Sharepoint. This backs up what I’ve heard that Sharepoint Online will support Madison too!


    Learn more over at:


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