In less than a month, Microsoft will be releasing SQL Server 2008 R2 (code-named Kilimanjaro), a mere 22 months after the release of SQL Server 2008. Whether you like it or not, assuming you want to keep your SQL Server skills up-to-date, you need to be prepared to spend some time learning about what R2 has to offer.
If you haven’t started your R2 self-study yet, an excellent place to begin is Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008 R2 web page. This central location provides a wealth of information on R2’s new editions, features, benefits, new (higher) licensing costs, training resources, and much more.
Once you’ve got an overview of R2, you should consider downloading a free CTP trial of R2 and experimenting with it. If you do, be sure you install it on a test server or virtual machine, as the CTP is not yet production worthy. Or, if you’re not in a hurry, you can just wait until the RTM trial version becomes available next month.
If you are more of a developer DBA, then consider downloading the free SQL Server 2008 R2 Update for Developers Training Kit, which provides comprehensive information (presentations, demos, labs) on how to develop SQL Server 2008 and R2 applications.
If you don’t have the time to download and install the trial versions, at least consider downloading the SQL Server 2008 R2 Books Online, which is a handy way to help you get up to speed, as it is currently the best resource for R2 documentation, especially for production DBAs.
Also, if reading a book is your preferred learning style anyway, several new R2 books have already been announced. The first one to become available will be the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant (Microsoft Press), available sometime in mid-April, with other R2-related books to follow later this summer.
If you are lucky enough to live in Europe, you can participate in the official SQL Server 2008 R2 Launch, on April 21, which will be held in cooperation with European PASS in Neuss, Germany (further R2 launch events will be held at various locations around the world). And of course, R2 will be featured at the many upcoming SQL Saturday and TechFest events this year, including the PASS 2010 Community Summit this November or, if you can't wait that long, the 24 Hours of PASS online event, which starts on May 19.
There are lots of options for getting up to speed with SQL Server 2008 R2, all you have to do is find your preferred channel and make the time. I know this is easy to say, but much harder to accomplish, as we all have day jobs and family lives to cope with. I don’t know about you, but part of me almost hopes the next version of SQL Server (aka SQL Server 2011) slips a year or so, just to give me more time to catch up! I'd be interested to hear how deeply DBAs have looked into R2 as yet, at what bits in particular, and using what resources.
Brad M. McGehee
Director of DBA Education
Red Gate Software