A Denali By Any Other Name

Chances are excellent that you already know quite a bit about the latest SQL Server release, nattily code-named “Denali” (CTP3, to be exact). According to Microsoft, and some of the SQL bloggers out there, Denali has a decent amount of improvements going for it. Let’s see. We’ve got the

and, of course, the much-touted seamless delivery of solutions across the private or public cloud. (Because it is impossible to read about anything without mention of “the cloud.” IMPOSSIBLE.)

Anyway, what we wanted to know had less to do with ubiquitous on-demand access to configurable resources and a lot more to do with names. More specifically? Denali.

As anyone with a couple of versions under their belt can explain, Microsoft has been saddling SQL Server with mountainous (and national park-ish, depending on how you look at it and assuming you want to consider 2000′s Liberty and Shiloh for a tenuous park theme) names for years. SQL Server 2005 was Yukon, where Canada’s Mount Logan is found. The 2008 version was Katmai (sending developers and DBAs the world over running to Wikipedia), and 2008 R2 was code-named Kilimanjaro.

So how does Denali measure up to its predecessors in terms of nomenclature and the natural world? Let’s compare the height of the four regions in question.

  • Denali: 20,320 ft (6,194 m)
  • Katmai: 6,716 ft (2,047 m)
  • Kilimanjaro: 19,341 ft (5,895 m)
  • Yukon (Mount Logan): 19,551 ft (5,959 m)

Looks like the folks in charge of code names were aiming high with Denali. Located in the Alaska Range, Denali is the highest mountain in North America. The one road-accessible entrance to the mountain is around 240 miles north of Anchorage and 120 miles south of Fairbanks.

Denali is perhaps better known to many Americans by its national name, Mount McKinley. Yet Alaska’s state government was determined the mountain would officially remain–in Alaska at least–Denali, the name first given to it by neighboring Athabaskan peoples and meaning “the high one.” The man originally intent on making the mountain a permanent and rocky tribute to a chief executive? Businessman and gold prospector William A. Dickey, who had this to say about the mountain he unceremoniously renamed at the end of the nineteenth century:

We named our peak Mount McKinley, after William McKinley of Ohio, who had been nominated for the Presidency, and that fact was the first news we received on our way out of that wonderful wilderness. We have no doubt that this peak is the highest in North America, and estimate that it is over 20,000 feet high.

(For more information, see the comprehensive history available from the National Park Service.)

As far as code names go, then, the latest version of SQL Server could have been dubbed something far worse. At least Denali is keeping with a theme. The same can perhaps not be said for poor code-name Frosting, which eventually and mercifully transformed into “Microsoft Plus for Windows 95.”

Then again, this new SQL Server could have been named something a little more fun, too. We think the Windows CE team had it right, years ago, when they chose code names based on single-malt scotches. After all, Talisker and Macallan do have any awfully nice ring to them.

In our next post, we will share our favorite Denali bloggers. There are a lot of you out there!