Microsoft this week announced that it has completed the development of SQL Server 2012, the next major release of its data platform. Code-named Denali and in development for several years, SQL Server 2012 will become broadly available next month, according to the company.

"Data is being generated faster than ever before, and organizations need a way to process and analyze all that data," says Microsoft Corporate Vice President Ted Kummert. "Whatever the type or size of data, SQL Server 2012 delivers the platform and familiar tools to manage data, generate actionable insights, and help drive business impact."

SQL Server 2012 is a family of products that now includes a new Business Intelligence product version in addition to the more mainstream Standard and Enterprise editions  and the Express and Web Developer versions. The previously available Datacenter, Small Business, and Workgroup versions have been discontinued.

SQL Server 2012 includes new high-availability features, better performance, an integrated development environment, and more. For a rundown of new features and other changes in SQL Server 2012, please refer to Microsoft's What's New in SQL Server 2012 documentation. 

If you're interested in kicking the virtual tires on SQL Server 2012, you can do so today via a free evaluation version that's available from the Microsoft website. (MSDN and TechNet subscribers should have versions available now as well.) There are x86 (32-bit) and x64 (64-bit) versions available.