It wouldn't be a PASS Summit without some SQL Server announcements! At the early-bird keynote (8:15 am) Bob Muglia and Ted Kummert, Microsoft senior executives, announced the upcoming delivery of the November feature-complete community technology preview (CTP) of SQL Server 2008 R2. They also announced two new SQL Server 2008 R2 editions that will provide a high-level of scaling solutions: SQL Server 2008 R2 Datacenter and SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse (the later has been known by the code name "Madison").

Over 2000 SQL Server DBAs, BI professionals, and developers streamed into Seattle to attend PASS Summit 2009 to learn the latest news from Microsoft, attend great technical sessions, check out the latest Microsoft and third-party solutions, and get together with fellow SQLheads. It's a pleasure to walk into a place that's 100 percent SQL Server, all the time.

At the keynote Kummert told the audience that Microsoft is delivering data warehouse applications with various hardware partners. IBM is the newest partner, offering three hardware configurations as part of SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse 2.0. Other companies announcing new configurations for version 2.0 include HP, Bull, and Dell.

"Microsoft's vision is to deliver an information platform enabling all businesses to gain strategic value from information," Kummert opined. "Companies are looking to compete and grow by reducing costs and identifying the highest value opportunities for their business. We're moving forward rapidly to address these challenges with new capabilities in manageability, business intelligence, data warehousing and the first relational database cloud offering in SQL Azure."

SQL Azure will be big news in the next generation of SQL Server. Kummert advised PASS attendees to stay tuned and look for major advancements 24-36 months from the SQL Server 2008 R2 release. More down to earth Azure news: SQL Azure billing will start in 2010. A new utility that synchronizes on premises solutions with the cloud will be available later this month.