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The next blocks in Microsoft's SQL Server and appliance-based data-warehouse strategy will be put in place starting this summer.

A Community Technology Preview edition of SQL Server 2008 R2, codenamed Kilimanjaro, will be made available in the second half of this year, Microsoft has said.

CTP is the first opportunity you'll get to test the code for a database Microsoft's promised will have a strong business-intelligence focus and see support for large systems.

Until now, Microsoft had only talked of CTP sometime this year. The company, meanwhile, said Kilimanjaro is on track to ship in the first-half of 2010. SQL Server 2008 shipped more than a year late.

Ahead of the CTP, though, you're going to get a taste of what a really large system running Kilimanjaro looks like: a technology preview of a version of Kilimanjaro for appliances, codenamed Madison, is due this August, Microsoft said.

Madison will use DATAllegro and Zoomix technology - acquired last year - for large scale and detailed analysis. The goal is for Madison to serve up petabytes of data using SMP on hardware architectures from server, big iron and storage specialists Bull, Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, and Unisys.

Kilimanjaro and Madison are more than just the latest installments in an on-going strategy to make SQL Server run on bigger systems and support larger data sets than before. They are an attempt to improve the actual complex analysis of large volumes of data on systems that use SQL Server.

They come as Microsoft's database rival Oracle teamed with HP to last year deliver a massive, parallel, high-speed server and storage system running on Linux. Since then, Oracle's announced its intention to buy Sun Microsystems, and expressed its love for Sun's Sparc architecture, suggesting the company has even bigger data and information appliances in mind.

HP, meanwhile, is working with business-applications giant SAP on a server appliance. Demonstrated at SAP's SAPPHIRE conference, the XML Appliance is based on a quad-socket Xeon server ProLiant DL580 and runs Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10. The appliance is designed to format data in SAP ERP systems into XML ready for use on the web, in reports or other documents.

Against this backdrop Microsoft has promised "new technology" in Kilimanjaro for low-latency complex-event processing, in addition to capabilities for master-data services, application and multi-user management, and a system that will go beyond 64 logical processors. ®

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