I talked over today's announcements of the Kilimanjaro release and the Madison solution with Fausto Ibarra, the director of product management for SQL Server at Microsoft.

Let's look at what's going on with Kilimanjaro first.

Today at the BI Conference Microsoft announced plans for a BI-focused release of SQL Server, code named "Kilimanjaro" in the first half of the 2010 calendar year. According to Ibarra, the Kilimanjaro release is not the full-blown release of the next version of SQL Server, neither is it an R2-type release. It's a post-SQL Server 2008 release that includes the new Gemini managed self-service and analysis capabilities. Microsoft announced Project Gemini earlier this year.

Customers with SQL Server 2008 licenses, if they have software assurance (SA), will get the Kilimanjaro release, according to Ibarra. Otherwise, Microsoft plans to license it separately. The first community technology preview (CTP) of Kilimanjaro will be available in 12 months. Pricing hasn't been determined yet. As with most Microsoft releases, there will be a Technology Adoption Program (TAP) program for early adopters of Kilimanjaro, Ibarra said.

So when will the next full version of SQL Server ship? No one will say, although Ted Kummert, Microsoft corporate vice president said at the keynote this morning that Microsoft intends to ship the next version of SQL Server twenty-four to thirty-six months after the 2008 version. Most folks are still trying to wrap their heads around the latest version of SQL Server, so there's not a big rush to need to know the next generation product yet. The Kilimanjaro interim release is designed to generate excitement among BI professionals and business decision-makers eager to push BI into wider usage within their organizations.

The solution code named "Madison" is not a release. (Are you confused yet?) Ibarra verified that it's a solution and will be available to customers in 12 months through a CTP. Madison is an "appliance-like" solution that's intended to "deliver massively increased scalability capable of supporting the very largest data warehousing deployments," according to today's press release. Microsoft, along with server and storage hardware providers including Bull, Dell, EMC, HP, and Unisys will team up to release an appliance (plus software and support--the "like" in appliance-like) integrating technology from the appliance vendor DATAllegro, which Microsoft recently acquired.

The solution was demoed at this morning's keynotes and was very cool: it pulled together reports very rapidly from many terabytes (TB) of data. Madison will enable managed self-service for thousands of business users manipulating hundreds of TB of data to get questions answered. Microsoft says that this move into the very large data warehouse will have low TCO and high ROI.

2010 promises to be a very busy year for SQL Server customers--there will be CTPs for Kilimanjaro and Madison. Then the releases. Plus the next generation SQL Server release will be in its CTP and release cycle. Maybe Microsoft has plans to sync up all these releases. They haven't said. In the meantime, don't get dizzy.