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TechEd Announcements: New Windows Server, SQL Server, Azure, and more

We’re here in hot and humid New Orleans to learn all about the latest products that Microsoft has to announce. Although the conference doesn’t officially kickoff until today at 8:30am CT, we sat down with Eron Kelly, General Manager of SQL Server, a little early and he shared some of the high level announcements to expect at TechEd.

In what will be a surprise to practically nobody, Microsoft will release Windows Server 2012 R2 (aka: Blue) for public preview “sometime in June.” Although there won’t be any sweeping changes, the update will bring improved Hyper-V networking virtualization, allowing bursting into the cloud as well as site-to-site VPN connections. Server 2012 R2 will also provide automatic storage tiering, common in expensive SAN arrays offered by companies like EMC and NetApp, allowing admins to roll their own storage solutions. Lastly, improvements in overall virtual machine portability between Windows on-premise installations and Windows Azure will be put in place, improving global management and backup capabilities.

System Center 2012 will also receive the R2 update in June. Now, with a single pane of glass, administrators will be able to use a single pane of glass to manage both local installs, as well as servers running in Azure. Device management will also span across practically any mobile device, giving a single user interface for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android, in addition to desktops running Windows and MacOS.

SQL Server is being updated to a full blown 2014, skipping past the R2 designation, although no explanation was given. The latest update will give database administrators the ability to pin tables in memory to improve response time. Power View for analytics in Excel will also be improved upon.

Kelly stated that Azure is experiencing 210% year over year revenue growth, an amazing feat with all of the competition available in the cloud space, and the company is looking to improve the experience. Microsoft is changing the pricing model, charging per minute instead of per hour as they do now. In addition to the Azure features being upgraded/implemented in Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and SQL Server 2014, Microsoft will also be announcing a preview of Biztalk in the cloud and everyone with a Visual Studio Premium and Ultimate MSDN subscription will receive $150/month of Azure consumption.

While none of these are ground breaking announcements, it continues to show Microsoft’s plans on “cloud-enabling” all of their products. We’re sure we’ll learn more specific details during Brad Anderson’s keynote, so stay tuned as we live blog it starting at 8:30 am CT.

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