Day 2 at PASS Summit 2010 – Denali announced and available…

Yes, this really is the biggest PASS Summit ever. You can tell by the line of folks trying to get on the escalator to get downstairs after the keynote speech. We’ve been talking about locking and blocking all week regarding our databases and here was a human white-spot right before our eyes. The keynote was well attended and did not disappoint with further details on the next release of SQL Server codenamed “Denali”. Afterwards, CTP1 was handed out on CD. Maybe that created the deadlock. Quentin Clark, General Manager SQL Server at Microsoft, noted it was the first time a new product version was announced and distributed at the same conference. Cool… Microsoft has highlighted 3 major themes of Denali functionality: Mission Critical, Developer Productivity and Pervasive Insight. Gopal Ashok, Technical Product Manager at Microsoft, demonstrated a major new mission-critical feature of Denali named SQL Server “Always On” which looks like a neat consolidation of Database Mirroring and Log Shipping. He showed how to create an Availability Group consisting of multiple databases that you wish to protect on a SQL Server. Each database then can have up to 4 secondary databases on other instances with each being designated with either Automatic Failover, Manual Failover or Asynchronous processing. Any secondary database can now be marked to “Allow all connections” which allows up-to-date read-only access for load-balancing. There is also provided an “Always On Dashboard” for real-time monitoring. Much applause as the major limitations of Database Mirroring seem to be removed in the new release with an intuitive user interface to boot. Rohan Kumar, Principal Group Program Manager at Microsoft then demonstrated a new Denali feature called FileTable which extends the Filestream data feature in SQL Server 2008. Instead of defining individual columns for BLOB data to be stored external to the database now you can define a whole table as a FileTable which references a folder on the file system. The advantage here is that any application that stores files in NTFS can now populate that data in a table in SQL Server without any code changes needed. Rohan loaded document files through the command-line into a folder referenced by a FileTable and showed how the data could be immediately accessed through T-SQL using, for example, Full-Text Indexes. Being part of the database, FileTable supports normal transaction processing, backup, restore and security as you would expect. Don Box, Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft, showed us more about the new unified tool codenamed “Juneau” that will combine SSMS and BIDS through the VS 2010 Shell in the name of developer productivity. Having spent the last 5 years plus getting used to SSMS, Don assured us that the all the features of SSMS will be present in Juneau. We’ve heard that before, but he did show us some extra functionality that will be there. For instance, the Table Designer in SSMS is clunky at best and has been redesigned in Juneau. Now, as you make changes to the table graphically, a script window automatically shows the T-SQL changes. If you make changes to the script it will also show those updates in the graphic. It will also show any potential referential errors before you commit your work or, better, will allow you to save a change script for further testing. The new Import Database Wizard will generate all the object scripts for a database and conveniently bring them into a Visual Studio Project for version control. When opening a table script, the UI jumps straight into the Table Designer, showing graphic and code. Microsoft has listened that, yes, the User Interface can provide productivity but as techies we always want to see the actual code. Finally, Jeff Bernhart, Principal Product Unit Manager at Microsoft showed us some Pervasive Insight features (aka BI). We were shown already how the PowerPivot and VertiPaq technologies are being rolled into Denali. Excel will also have a direct link to Master Data Services for enterprise data consistency and “Single Source of Truth”. The new version of SSIS is more forgiving, we are told. The SSIS Dashboard will show deployed packages and their dependencies. The new Data Cleaning transform will make standardizing data easier. And yes, SSIS now has a fully functional Undo feature. Sometimes it’s surprising what gets the biggest applause! Cheers Brian

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