Microsoft has made a release candidate (RC) version of its upcoming SQL Server 2012 available, allowing testers to get their hands on a feature-complete build of the next-generation database server for the first time.
SQL Server 2012, set for general availability sometime in early 2012, has been developed for greater cloud-readiness with new availability and recovery features, plus the ability to easily migrate databases from one server to another.
The RC, announced on Microsoft's SQL Server blog, adds new functionality not seen in the earlier community technology preview builds, according to Microsoft.
This includes better data warehousing support via Change Data Capture support for Oracle, and multiple secondaries to extend high availability support.
Microsoft added that the SQL Server 2012 RC is a production-quality release that also includes access to upgrade and migration tools.
These include the SQL Server Migration Assistant, while Upgrade Advisor and Distributed Replay allow customers to analyse and test current SQL Server applications for any issues before upgrading.
Microsoft also revealed that over 100,000 customers have already downloaded the SQL Server 2012 CTP releases and provided feedback which helped to produce the RC version.
SQL Server 2012 RC is available now from Microsoft's Download Center.
In October Microsoft and HP announced the launch of HP's Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance, designed to help organisations consolidate all database workloads into what is essentially a private cloud for SQL Server.