Microsoft Continues the Evolution of the Data Platform

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 12, 2007 — Microsoft today announced an important milestone for SQL Server 2008—the upcoming availability of the November Community Technology Preview (CTP) for the latest version of SQL Server.

PressPass spoke with Ted Kummert, corporate vice president, Data and Storage Platform Division at Microsoft, about the upcoming release of the SQL Server 2008 November CTP and recent announcements from the SQL Server group.

Ted Kummert, Corporate Vice President, Data and Storage Platform Division at Microsoft

PressPass: What is the importance of SQL Server 2008 in the company’s data platform vision?

Kummert: SQL Server 2008 is a huge step forward as we continue delivering on our data platform vision for “Your Data, Any Place, Any Time.” SQL Server 2008 will bring that vision to life, and there is something in this feature-rich CTP to meet the needs of companies of all sizes. We make it easier for organizations to store and manage many types of data, including XML, e-mail, time/calendar, file, document, geospatial, and so on, while providing a rich and trusted set of services to interact with the data such as search, query, data analysis, reporting, data integration, and robust synchronization.

PressPass: The November CTP is a significant milestone for SQL Server 2008. What are some of the new features in this CTP?

Kummert: As I mentioned, this CTP really is jam-packed with new features. We really believe it is going to be an eye opener for a lot of people, not just in terms of the new features that will be included, but how close we are to delivering a final product with high quality. When we think about the importance of SQL Server 2008, it is really about moving ahead with our application platform approach and delivering against the vision of Dynamic IT for organizations. Some key data management and reliability features include compatibility with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 as well as new capabilities such as Resource Governor, Backup Compression and Transparent Data Encryption.

This CTP also has new business intelligence enhancements including Design Alerts, block computation, and Enhanced Report Designer including new visualizations. In addition, this is the first CTP to help customers store and consume any type of data including new FILESTREAM data types for unstructured data, and to provide support for spatial data for location intelligence. There is a considerable amount of new functionality, and I welcome customers and partners to download the CTP, test it in their environment, and provide us with feedback.

PressPass: SQL Server 2005 has proven to support the most demanding applications in the world. What new functionality are you delivering in this CTP to help in this area?

Kummert: We want to help our customers better manage mission-critical systems. Organizations need security and a trusted platform that can support their most demanding applications and provide predictable performance for all of their applications. We are focused on delivering this core functionality for our customers while at the same time extending our TCO leadership. For example, Resource Governor is a key new feature in the CTP that enables an organization to define resource limits and place priorities on particular workloads to deliver predictable performance. This will really help ensure that the right application or user is getting the performance they need. Customers can also take advantage of the Declarative Management Framework, a new policy-based management framework that monitors and prevents unauthorized changes to the system and can help keep companies in line with compliance guidelines. This will help customers more easily manage their systems and continues the ease-of-use leadership that SQL Server is well known for.

PressPass: What are the new features found in this CTP that empower customers to move beyond relational information?

Kummert: With SQL Server 2008 we are extending our platform to move storing words and numbers to sights and sounds. Customers are looking to seamlessly integrate and manage different types of data – relational, semi-structured and unstructured. The SQL Server 2008 November CTP makes support for spatial technology available directly in the platform, enabling a broad range of location aware applications. This includes new data types for GEOGRAPHY and GEOMETRY as well as spatial indexing providing high-performance queries. With the November CTP customers and partners can consume, use, and extend location-based data through spatial-enabled applications and build location-aware applications by using new spatial data capabilities in SQL Server 2008.

In addition, we are introducing a new data type called FILESTREAM. Now large binary data like documents and images, or any other types of unstructured data, can be stored and managed directly into the database.

PressPass: The spatial enhancements are getting a lot of attention in the partner community. What do you think is driving that interest?

Kummert: We created these new spatial features with partners in mind—building core capabilities into SQL Server to enable a broad range of solutions. We are pleased that our partners are just as excited as we are about this upcoming new capability. Our approach is to broaden the use and applicability of spatial technology to a wide range of solutions so anyone can benefit. We have 12 industry partners who have already announced their intention to ship applications to fully take advantage of the spatial data support in SQL Server 2008, such as AWhere, Barrodale, ESRI, IntraGIS, I.S. Consulting, Manifold, Safe Software and SpatialPoint, among many others. To that end, we recently announced that Microsoft has joined the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC) as a principal member. We are committed to driving cross-industry standards that contribute to both stronger interoperability and business productivity for all.

PressPass: What functionality are you delivering for developers?

Kummert: One of the core objectives in our data platform vision is to help developers accelerate the time to solution. Developers shouldn’t have to spend valuable time on low-level data programming details; rather, we want to empower them to do what they do best: build solutions for real world business needs. As part of this we have made huge strides in building an Entity Data Model (EDM) strategy and recently announced beta 2 of the ADO.NET Entity Framework along with the first beta release of the Entity Designer and related tooling. Now developers can program in a language they are comfortable in, increasing productivity. Furthermore, services build on top of the EDM are coming soon—for example, Microsoft codenamed “Astoria” is a technology that enables applications to expose data as a data service that can be consumed by Web clients within corporate networks and across the Internet, providing developers with a simple and clean way to access data.

In addition, just last week we announced the first CTP of the Microsoft Sync Framework—a set of technologies that demonstrates Microsoft’s ongoing investments in synchronization and builds on the functionality available in Visual Studio 2008. With Visual Studio 2008, developers can rapidly take advantage of offline synchronization capabilities to sync-enable applications and services easily with rich designer support.  The Microsoft Sync Framework extends the support featured in Visual Studio 2008 to also include offline and peer-to-peer collaboration using any protocol for any data type, and any data store. The result is that any data from any source, such as from a database, the cloud, or a phone, can always be up-to-date and synchronized for end users.

PressPass: Business Intelligence (BI) is a major market trend. What new functionality are you delivering to extend Microsoft’s BI offering?

Kummert: Microsoft delivers a complete and integrated BI solution. Within the BI platform, we are providing improvements across all of our key BI capabilities including SQL Server integration Services, SQL Server Analysis Services and SQL Server Reporting Services. New functionality found in this CTP includes advanced visualization capabilities, design alerts, change data capture, and many more usability and performance improvements to reach all users.

SQL Server 2008 will provide a scalable BI platform optimized for data integration, reporting, and analysis enabling organizations to deliver intelligence where users want it. We are pleased that our customers have had success with high scale data warehouses, which enables them to manage growing volumes of data and users more efficiently.

PressPass: SQL Server 2005 has done remarkably well. How will SQL Server 2008 build off of that success?

Kummert: We’re extremely proud of the success we’ve seen with SQL Server 2005. Most recently SQL Server experienced yet another quarter of double-digit growth with a 15 percent revenue increase from Q1 FY07 to Q1 FY08. Several reports from independent analyst firms also show SQL Server gaining market share around the world as adoption rates for SQL Server continue to outpace the industry and the performance of other vendors.

In addition to continuing the great adoption we have seen, from a technical standpoint, SQL Server 2008 builds upon the huge strides we made with SQL Server 2005. In fact, Microsoft was recently positioned as a leader in the Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems by Gartner. We are delivering significant new value in SQL Server 2008 that will help our customers run their most demanding applications, build data-driven applications faster, and drive pervasive insights across the organization. Even with all the new features we are adding, we are committed to keeping SQL Server 2008 the same price as SQL Server 2005. Considering the number of features that we include in our core product that our competitors charge for as an extra fee, we are pleased to add new value that doesn’t require our customers to purchase additional options or add-ons.

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