Microsoft has made available Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 preview versions, enabling IT professionals to start to get to grips with the new features coming in the updates of these major packages.
The software giant made the preview builds available at its TechEd Europe conference in Madrid, after showing off some of the capabilities of Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 at its TechEd event in New Orleans earlier this month.
For the updated Windows Server, these include automated storage tiering using a combination of direct-attached SSDs and conventional hard drives. There is also better support for hybrid cloud computing deployments thanks to software-defined networking (SDN) features and virtual machine portability between a customer's on-premise cloud and that of service providers and Windows Azure.
Many of these new capabilities, such as virtual machine portability, also require System Center 2012 R2 to implement.
SQL Server 2014 also aims to offer more mission-critical performance capabilities, including in-memory analytics for real-time handling of online transaction processing (OLTP), and a new point-and-click user interface in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to enable customers to easily deploy SQL Server databases onto the Windows Azure cloud computing platform.
In a blog post covering the releases, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President for Windows Server Brad Anderson said that Microsoft has made a big bet on its "cloud-first" design principles, and that the updated data centre products will have a massive impact on companies around the world.
"IT pros are going to see the traditional boundaries between data centres vanish and a true hybrid cloud emerge," he said.
The full release versions of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 are scheduled for release by the end of this year, while SQL Server 2014 is due to follow early next year.
Customers can download the preview releases of the software from the TechNet Evaluation Centre from today.
Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.