SQL Server 2008 R2, formerly code-named Kilimanjaro, will enable organizations to build business intelligence solutions that include complex event processing, taking Microsoft into the high end of the BI market.

Microsoft shipped SQL Server 2008 R2 on Wednesday. It is available in four editions: Parallel Data Warehouse, Datacenter, Enterprise and Standard.

Microsoft is also continuing to ship a free version, SQL Server 2008 R2 Express. Microsoft has increased the maximum database size in SQL Server 2008 R2 Express from 4GB to 10GB.

R2 introduces a self-service analytics component called PowerPivot, which works with both transactional and stored data. PowerPivot, formerly code-named Gemini, shares its data using Excel 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010. PowerPivot is not included in the Standard edition of SQL Server.

Reports will be configurable as data services. Report Builder 3.0 now also supports geospatial visualization. That will enable organizations to view geospatially tagged information on maps.

SQL Server 2008 R2 introduces Microsoft’s StreamInsight event processing platform. StreamInsight is bundled with the Datacenter SKU of SQL Server.

“[StreamInsight] looks impressive on PowerPoint: sophisticated technology, capable of high volume/low latency,” said Roy Schulte, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Research. “At this price (free to those who buy SQL Server), it could be a factor in spreading the adoption of CEP more broadly.”

Microsoft’s stream-oriented system is most similar to solutions from Oracle and Truviso, Schulte added. “It’s less like Progress or TIBCO.” Microsoft is aiming for the high end of applications, he said.

“It doesn’t look like a toy. But until I talk to someone who is really doing it, I can’t be sure,” Schulte said.

On the back end, Microsoft has scaled up SQL Server’s SMP support to up to 256 logical processors. It has added master data services that will allow IT organizations to centrally manage data assets across systems to ensure the integrity of information.