SQL Is Popular, Pays Well, Big New Survey Reveals

SQL skills pay well and the technology is among the most popular as indicated by a big new developer survey from Stack Overflow, which tracked everything from caffeine consumption to indentation preferences.

While Objective-C was reported as the most lucrative technology to learn -- garnering an average salary of $98,828 in the U.S. -- SQL wasn't far behind, coming in at No. 5 on the list with an average reported salary of $91,431 in the U.S.

In terms of popularity, SQL was at No. 2 in the rankings, listed by 48 percent of respondents, second only to the ubiqutous JavaScript, listed by 54.4 percent of respondents.

These results are inline with previous such surveys from a few years ago, showing SQL isn't losing much ground in the technology wars.

"These results are not unbiased," Stack Overflow warned about the new survey. "Like the results of any survey, they are skewed by selection bias, language bias, and probably a few other biases. So take this for what it is: the most comprehensive developer survey ever conducted. Or at least the only one that asks devs about tabs vs. spaces."

Stack Overflow, in case you didn't know, is the go-to place for coders to get help with their problems. The site reports some 32 million monthly visitors.

Using this unique status, the site polled 26,086 people from 157 countries in February, posing a list of 45 questions.

One of the key areas of inquiry concerned salaries, of course. The survey found that behind Objective-C, the most lucrative skills were Node.js., C#, C++ and SQL.

Who Makes What
[Click on image for larger view.] Who Makes What (source: Stack Overflow)

But if it's purchasing power you're interested in, Ukraine is tops -- at least according to the metric of how many Big Macs you can buy on your salary.

It also might help to work remotely, as coders who don't have to fight commute traffic earn about 40 percent more than those who never work from home.

On the technology front, Apple's young Swift language was the most loved, Salesforce the most dreaded, and Android the most wanted (devs who aren't developing with the tech but have indicated interest in doing so).

Most Popular Technologies
[Click on image for larger view.] Most Popular Technologies (source: Stack Overflow)

Interestingly, the popular Java programming language didn't make the top 10 list of most loved languages, or most dreaded, though it was in the middle of the pack for most wanted and came in at No. 3 in overall technology popularity.

Other survey highlights include:

  • JavaScript is the most popular technology, followed by SQL, Java, C# and PHP.
  • NotePad++ is the most popular text editor, followed by Sublime Text, Vim, Emacs and Atom.io.
  • 1,900 respondents reported being mobile developers, with 44.6 percent working with Android, 33.4 percent working with iOS and 2.3 percent working with Windows Phone (and 19.8 percent not identifying with any of those).
  • The biggest age group is 25-29, where 28.5 percent of respondents lie. Only 1.9 percent of respondents were over 50.
  • Only 5.8 percent of respondents reported themselves as being female.
  • Most developers (41.8 percent) reported being self-taught, with only 18.4 percent having earned a master's degree in computer science or a related field.
  • Most respondents identified themselves as full-stack developers (6,800). Two reported being farmers.
  • And, oh, by the way, Norwegian developers consume the most caffeinated beverages per day (3.09), and tabs were the more popular indentation technique, preferred by 45 percent of respondents. Spaces were popular with 33.6 percent of respondents.

    But there's more to that story.

    "Upon closer examination of the data, a trend emerges: Developers increasingly prefer spaces as they gain experience," the survey stated. "Stack Overflow reputation correlates with a preference for spaces, too: users who have 10,000 rep or more prefer spaces to tabs at a ratio of 3 to 1."

    I'm a spaces guy myself. How about you?

Posted by David Ramel on 04/14/2015 at 1:06 PM0 comments


Analyst: SQL Server Not Enough in Modern Data World

Forrester Research Inc. analyst Boris Evelson said existing approaches to business intelligence (BI) need updating in the modern world, and converging them with Big Data technologies requires more than traditional DBMS systems such as SQL Server can provide.

BI is alive and well in the age of Big Data and will continue to enjoy a thriving market, Evelson said, but the world is constantly changing and more innovation is needed.

"Some of the approaches in earlier-generation BI applications and platforms started to hit a ceiling a few years ago," Evelson said in a blog post today. "For example, SQL and SQL-based database management systems (DBMS), while mature, scalable and robust, are not agile and flexible enough in the modern world where change is the only constant."

But Big Data can provide those agile and flexible alternatives in a convergence with BI. "In order to address some of the limitations of more traditional and established BI technologies, Big Data offers more agile and flexible alternatives to democratize all data, such as NoSQL, among many others," the analyst said.

While the emergence of NoSQL data stores as a necessary replacement for traditional DBMS in some Big Data scenarios is well-known, the research firm's suggested solution is somewhat less obvious.

Forrester proposes using a flexible hub-and-spoke data platform to meld the BI and Big Data worlds, Evelson said in publicizing a new research report titled, "Boost Your Business Insights By Converging Big Data And BI." The research builds on previous themes explored by Forrester, such as a 2013 report that features the hub-and-spoke pattern prominently in a discussion of Big Data patterns.

The new report describes such an architecture as featuring the following components:
  • Hadoop-based data hubs/lakes to store and process majority of the enterprise data.
  • Data discovery accelerators to help profile and discover definitions and meanings in data sources.
  • Data governance that differentiates the processes you need to perform at the ingest, move, use and monitor stages.
  • BI that becomes one of many spokes of the Hadoop-based data hub.
  • A knowledge management portal to front-end multiple BI spokes.
  • Integrated metadata for data lineage and impact analysis.

Evelson isn't the first Forrester analyst to hint at big changes in the datacenter as Big Data matures and gets integrated with other tools.

"Enterprises that have a more complete data platform story, as well as a vision, are more likely to succeed in the coming years and also have a competitive advantage if they get onto this bandwagon of data platform, which includes Hadoop, Big Data, NoSQL as well as traditional databases -- all integrated," Forrester analyst Noel Yuhanna told ADTMag last year. "Because that's where you see customers that are more successful, having all those data types together and managed together and provided together in a manner that will be helpful for businesses to operate."

That theme is echoed in this new research, which identifies three key areas upon which that the hub-and-spoke system should be based. These three layers are labeled cold, warm and hot, expressing the relationship between speedy and powerful analytics and associated expenses. The cold layer holds most enterprise data in the Hadoop framework, which can be slower than databases such as SQL Server but costs less to operate. The warm layer uses DBMS for somewhat faster queries at a somewhat more expensive price. The hot layer is for speedy analysis with in-memory tools where cost might not be as important as the benefits gleaned from real-time, interactive data processing.

"But at the end of the day, while new terms are important to emphasize the need to evolve, change and innovate, what's infinitely more imperative is that both strive to achieve the same goal: transform data into information and insight," Evelson said. "Alas, while many developers are beginning to recognize the synergies and overlaps between BI and Big Data, quite a few still consider and run both in individual silos."

Posted by David Ramel on 03/27/2015 at 12:25 PM0 comments


Idera Unveils New SQL Server Suites

Idera Inc. announced new suites for managing SQL Servers, providing performance monitoring, automated maintenance, security features and more.

Known for its performance monitoring solutions, the Houston-based company renamed its primary management suite from SQL Suite to SQL Management Suite and launched three new software packages for specific functionalities.

"These suites combine top Idera products and are designed to help DBAs tackle complementary tasks more effectively as part of their daily job maintaining SQL Servers," the company said in a blog post this week.

The three new offerings are SQL Performance Suite, SQL Maintenance Suite and SQL Security Suite.

The flagship SQL Management Suite includes many of the tools found in the other packages for performance monitoring, alerting and diagnostics; compliance management for monitoring, auditing and alerting of activity and changes to data; security and permissions management; backup and restoration of SQL data; and defragmentation.

Some of the other suites add tools for their specific functionality -- for example, a business intelligence (BI) manager for tracking the health of SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) and SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).

"Our customers are responsible for maintaining and managing complex SQL environments and we listen to them to ensure our products consistently meet their performance, compliance and administrative needs," said CEO Randy Jacobs. "With most customers typically purchasing more than one product, we developed the new SQL Suites to improve the buying process and increase solution value for DBAs."

Idera, which offers a 14-day trial of its suites, didn't provide pricing information.

Posted by David Ramel on 03/19/2015 at 9:23 AM0 comments


Microsoft Updates PHP Driver for SQL Server

Continuing the company's shift to openness and interoperability, Microsoft yesterday released an updated PHP driver for its flagship Relational Database Management System (RDBMS), SQL Server.

The new driver supports PHP 5.6 and eases working with the Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) interface, described by Wikipedia as "a standard programming language middleware API for accessing database management systems."

"This driver allows developers who use the PHP scripting language to access Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Azure SQL Database, and to take advantage of new features implemented in ODBC," Microsoft said in a blog post. "The new version works with Microsoft ODBC Driver 11 or higher."

In January 2013 Microsoft introduced new ODBC drivers for SQL Server in version 11. "Microsoft is adopting ODBC as the de-facto standard for native access to SQL Server and Windows Azure SQL Database," the company said at the time. "We have provided longstanding support for ODBC on Windows and, in the SQL Server 2012 time frame, released support for ODBC on Linux (Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and 6, and SUSE Enterprise Linux)."

Key new features in the Windows version included driver-aware connection pooling, connection resiliency and asynchronous execution (polling method).

Posted by David Ramel on 03/10/2015 at 8:00 AM0 comments


Microsoft Azure Data Updates Continue Open Source Trend

One day after Big Data player Pivotal Software Inc. changed its business model by open sourcing core technologies, Microsoft today announced related product updates with a definite open source slant.

The "new and enhanced" data services include an Azure HDInsight preview that runs on Linux, and the general availability of Storm on HDInsight, Azure Machine Learning, and Informatica technology on the Microsoft Azure cloud.

"Just about every interesting innovation that's going on -- in data today, in machine learning and other areas -- has its roots in an open source ecosystem," Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz said yesterday at a live streaming event.

Perhaps an exaggeration, but the underlying meaning was grokked by Microsoft years ago, and the company is in the middle of a swing to openness and interoperability, led by new CEO Satya Nadella and top lieutenants such as T. K. "Ranga" Rengarajan, head of the data platform.

"Azure Machine Learning reflects our support for open source," stated a blog post today authored by Rengarajan and machine learning exec Joseph Sirosh. "The Python programming language is a first-class citizen in Azure Machine Learning Studio, along with R, the popular language of statisticians." Microsoft acquired stewardship of the R language earlier this year.

Data developers can now use the Machine Learning Marketplace to discover appropriate APIs and prebuilt services for common concerns such as recommendation engines, detecting anomalies and forecasting.

The open source story continues with Storm for Azure HDInsight. Azure HDInsight is Microsoft's cloud service based on 100 percent Apache Hadoop technology, open sourced by the Apache Software Foundation.

"Storm is an open source stream analytics platform that can process millions of data 'events' in real time as they are generated by sensors and devices," Microsoft said. "Using Storm with HDInsight, customers can deploy and manage applications for real-time analytics and Internet-of-Things (IoT) scenarios in a few minutes with just a few clicks. We are also making Storm available for both .NET and Java and the ability to develop, deploy and debug real-time Storm applications directly in Visual Studio. That helps developers to be productive in the environments they know best." Microsoft added Storm integration last fall.

Of course, there's nothing more open source than the Linux OS, and Azure HDInsight is now available as a preview project running on Ubuntu clusters. Ubuntu is a popular Linux distribution, described by Microsoft as "the leading scale-out Linux."

Adding Linux support in addition to Windows "is particularly compelling for people that already use Hadoop on Linux on-premises like on Hortonworks Data Platform, because they can use common Linux tools, documentation, and templates and extend their deployment to Azure with hybrid cloud connections," Microsoft said.

Also, to increase customer options for leveraging technology from Microsoft partners, the Redmond software giant announced that Informatica data integration technology will be available in the Azure Marketplace.

"Today, Informatica is announcing the availability of its Cloud Integration Secure Agent on Microsoft Azure and Linux Virtual Machines as well as an Informatica Cloud Connector for Microsoft Azure Storage," Informatica exec Ronen Schwartz said in a blog post today. "Users of Azure data services such as Azure HDInsight, Azure Machine Learning and Azure Data Factory can make their data work with access to the broadest set of data sources including on-premises applications, databases, cloud applications and social data."

All the Microsoft news comes during the Strata + Hadoop World conference underway in San Jose, Calif.

"These new services are part of our continued investment in a broad portfolio of solutions to unlock insights from data," Microsoft said. "They can help businesses dramatically improve their performance, enable governments to better serve their citizenry, or accelerate new advancements in science. Our goal is to make Big Data technology simpler and more accessible to the greatest number of people possible: Big Data pros, data scientists and app developers, but also everyday businesspeople and IT managers."

Posted by David Ramel on 02/18/2015 at 10:27 AM0 comments


Azure SQL Database Gets Closer to Pure SQL Server

Microsoft announced a bevy of improvements to its cloud-based data products, including the Azure SQL Database Update V12 (preview), sporting new security features and bringing it closer to full SQL Server engine compatibility.

The new security mechanisms available now or on tap include row-level security, dynamic data masking and transparent data encryption. These will be added to the existing auditing feature so users can further protect cloud data and comply with corporate and industry policies, Microsoft said.

Company exec Tiffany Wissner said in a blog post yesterday that row-level security was available now as a public preview. "Coming soon, SQL Database will also preview dynamic data masking, which is a policy-based security feature that helps limit the exposure of data in a database by returning masked data to non-privileged users who run queries over designated database fields, like credit-card numbers, without changing data on the database," Wissner said. She added the transparent data encryption is coming to SQL Database V12 databases to encrypt data at rest.

Already rolled out in Europe but coming to the United States soon, the updated SQL Database V12 has near-complete compatibility with the company's flagship SQL Server relational database management system (RDBMS) engine. The cloud service has always lacked some features of the regular SQL Server but has steadily been catching up.

The latest SQL Database will also better support larger databases -- this is the age of Big Data, after all -- and improved performance on the Premium tier.

"Internal tests on over 600 million rows of data show Premium query performance improvements of around 5x in the new preview relative to today's Premium SQL Database and up to 100x when applying the in-memory columnstore technology," Wissner said.

The new SQL Database version will start rolling out in the United States on Feb. 9 and should be available to most global datacenters by the end of that month.

Microsoft also announced simplified management of SQL Server running in Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines (VMs). For example, while mission-critical applications can benefit greatly from the SQL Server AlwaysOn high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) capabilities, such environments can be difficult to set up.

"Now with new auto HA setup capabilities using the AlwaysOn Portal Template added for SQL Server in Azure VMs, this really becomes a simpler task, freeing up your valuable time and resources to focus on other business priorities," Wissner said.

Backups, patching, and the monitoring and managing of SQL Server instances were also improved, Microsoft said.

"As a company committed to maintaining the highest innovation standards for our global clients, we're always eager to test the latest features," the company quoted exec John Schlesinger at customer company Temenos as saying. "So previewing the latest version of SQL Database was a no-brainer for us. After running both a benchmark and some close-of-business workloads, which are required by our regulated banking customers, we saw significant performance gains including a doubling of throughput for large blob operations, which are essential for our customers' reporting needs."

Along with pure data-related enhancements, Microsoft also announced other Azure updates affecting its enterprise mobility offerings and Azure Media Services.

"To enhance application access management, Microsoft Azure Active Directory is introducing, in public preview, conditional access policies that can enforce multi-factor authentication per application," said company exec Vibhor Kapoor in his own blog post yesterday. Also in public preview, Connect Health helps monitor and gain insights into the identity infrastructure used to extend on-premises identities to the cloud, such as Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS).

He also announced an Azure Rights Management Services (RMS) migration toolkit to help enterprises move from Active Directory RMS or Windows RMS to Azure RMS while maintaining access to existing RMS-protected content and policies.

For Azure Media Services, Kapoor said the content protection feature is now available for live and on-demand workflows, helping to address piracy concerns.

"Whether you are looking to run your SQL Server workload in an Azure VM or via the SQL Database managed service, there's no better time than now to move your enterprise workloads to the cloud or build new applications with Microsoft Azure," Kapoor said.

Current Azure subscribers can sign up to test the preview.

Posted by David Ramel on 01/30/2015 at 10:25 AM0 comments


Dell Updates SQL Server Tools

The software arm of Dell Inc. yesterday announced new versions of a bevy of products for the caretaking and development of SQL Server relational database management systems (RDBMSes).

Dell Software updated five different tools for monitoring, managing, protecting and boosting the performance of SQL Server databases, highlighted by version 11 of its Spotlight on SQL Server Enterprise.

That tool provides operational monitoring, diagnostics, administration and automatic tuning of physical on-premises, cloud-hosted or virtualized databases.

Reflecting the new "mobile-first" industry mindset, Spotlight on SQL Server Enterprise 11 features a new mobile app for remotely diagnosing issues from a smartphone. The app is available in native versions for Apple iOS, Google Android and Microsoft Windows Phone platforms.

The updated monitoring software also adds new multi-dimensional workload analysis and a new System Center Operations Manager management pack for users of the Microsoft cross-platform datacenter management software for OSes and hypervisors.

Spotlight also works with the new Toad for SQL Server 6.5, which helps developers and DBAs check system health and performance analytics.

The Dell data management Toad tool has been updated to work with the latest versions of SQL Server 2014 Enterprise and SQL Server Express running on the Amazon EC cloud or the Microsoft Azure cloud, as well as other Microsoft platforms such as SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), Azure Marketplace, Azure Table services and SharePoint.

The company also announced "the newly released Foglight for SQL Server 5.7, for real-time and historical database performance monitoring of both virtualized and non-virtualized databases." Dell said it features the new SQL Performance Investigator for workload analytics.

Another updated tool is LiteSpeed for SQL Server 8.0 for backup and recovery, now supporting the Amazon S3 storage service and SQL Server 2014. It also has a new UI and multiple-database restore functionality.

While the aforementioned products are available now, Dell said it plans to introduce later in the year version 8.6 of SharePlex for database replication and integration.

"The updated solution enables IT staff to offload reporting, migrate data and provide immediate data integration services from Oracle databases to Microsoft SQL Server for better business insight," Dell said. The tool now provides replication support for eight platforms: Oracle, SQL Server, Apache Hadoop, SAP ASE, Open Database Connectivity (ODBC), Java Message Service (JMS), SQL flat files and XML files.

Dell said developers and DBAs will be able to see the new products at next week's PASS Summit.

Posted by David Ramel on 10/29/2014 at 10:16 AM0 comments


Cloudera Big Data Partnership Adds Azure Options

In Microsoft's new era of openness, interoperability and increased customer options, the company continues to hedge its Big Data bets with a stream of new partnerships, services and initiatives.

The company's continued expansion of data developer services in Microsoft Azure cloud was highlighted this week by a partnership with Cloudera Inc., one of the "big three" Big Data players with enterprise offerings based on Apache Hadoop.

Cloudera Enterprise this week achieved Azure Certification to offer more Big Data options for Microsoft cloud customers, and further integration of Cloudera technology with other Microsoft data services is on tap.

"As a result of this certification, organizations will be able to launch a Cloudera Enterprise cluster from the Azure Marketplace starting Oct. 28," Microsoft said in a blog post. "Initially, this will be an evaluation cluster with access to MapReduce, HDFS and Hive. At the end of this year when Cloudera 5.3 releases, customers will be able to leverage the power of the full Cloudera Enterprise distribution including HBase, Impala, Search and Spark."

Just last week, Hortonworks Inc. -- another of the top three Hadoop vendors and a principal competitor to Cloudera -- announced Azure certification for its Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP). This expands on the partnership of Microsoft and Hortonworks, which last year teamed up for the Microsoft cloud-based Hadoop service, HDInsight, and earlier developed HDP for Windows.

Also last week, Microsoft announced HDInsight integration with Apache Storm for real-time Big Data analytics.

In the latest move with Cloudera, Azure customers will have more Big Data options, especially after Cloudera 5.3 is released in December. Then, Cloudera said, customers will be able to:
  • Deploy Cloudera directly from the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.
  • Import data into Cloudera from SQL Server.
  • Use Microsoft Power BI for Office 365 for self-service business intelligence.
  • Use Azure Machine Learning for cloud-based predictive analytics.

The SQL Server functionality is a further sign of Microsoft's tremendous effort to keep its traditional flagship relational database management system (RDBMS) relevant in the new world of Big Data analytics powered by non-relational NoSQL databases. Partnerships with Big Data vendors are key to that strategy, and Microsoft has now teamed up with two of the leading enterprise offerings in major initiatives.

"Microsoft and Cloudera are collaborating to help customers realize Big Data insights with the cloud," said Microsoft exec Scott Guthrie in a statement. "Now Azure customers can deploy Cloudera Enterprise with a few clicks, visualize their data with Microsoft Power BI and gain insights to transform their business -- all within minutes."

Stay tuned for further partnership news, possibly even with the third leading Hadoop vendor, MapR Technologies Inc.

Posted by David Ramel on 10/23/2014 at 1:44 PM0 comments


Apache Storm Integration Leads Expansion of Azure Data Services

Microsoft today announced Apache Storm technology for real-time Big Data analytics will be integrated with Microsoft Azure, highlighting several expansions of the company's cloud computing platform.

"We're announcing support of real-time analytics for Apache Hadoop in Azure HDInsight and new machine learning capabilities in the Azure Marketplace," said Microsoft exec T.K. Rengarajan in a blog post. "Our partner and Hadoop vendor Hortonworks also announced how they are integrating with Microsoft Azure with the latest release of the Hortonworks Data Platform." Hortonworks Inc., curator of one of the leading Big Data enterprise software distributions, teamed up with Microsoft to develop the HDInsight Hadoop-based service in the Azure cloud.

Storm is an open source, distributed, fault-tolerant real-time computation system, sometimes described as "real-time Hadoop." In addition to real-time analytics, the incubator project stewarded by the Apache Software Foundation can be used for online machine learning; continuous computation; and distributed remote procedure calls (RPC) and extract, transform and load (ETL) jobs, among other use cases described on the project's Web site.

"The preview availability of Storm in HDInsight continues Microsoft's investment in the Hadoop ecosystem and HDInsight," Rengarajan said. "Recently, we announced support for HBase clusters and the availability of HDInsight as the first global Hadoop Big Data service in China. And together with Hortonworks, we continue to contribute code and engineering hours to many Hadoop projects."

On Wednesday, Microsoft introduced Apache Storm for real-time analytics for Hadoop.
[Click on image for larger view.]Microsoft introduced Apache Storm for real-time analytics for Hadoop.
(source: Microsoft)

Also available in preview is Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, designed to help customers develop and manage predictive analytics projects. Use case examples for machine learning include search engines, online recommendations for products, credit card fraud prevention systems, traffic directions via GPS and mobile phone personal assistants.

"Today, we are introducing new machine learning capabilities in the Azure Marketplace enabling customers and partners to access machine learning capabilities as Web services," Rengarajan said. "These include a recommendation engine for adding product recommendations to a Web site, an anomaly detection service for predictive maintenance or fraud detection and a set of R packages, a popular programming language used by data scientists. These new capabilities will be available as finished examples for anyone to try."

The Microsoft exec also announced that the Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) from its partner has achieved Azure certification, noting that the Hadoop vendor will include hybrid data connectors in the next HDP release to enable customers to extend on-premises deployments of Hadoop to Azure for easier backup, scaling and testing.

Posted by David Ramel on 10/15/2014 at 12:24 PM0 comments


Espresso Logic Back-End Service Adds Azure Integration

The Espresso Logic Backend as a Service (BaaS) that can "join" SQL and NoSQL database calls now integrates with Microsoft Azure, the company announced yesterday.

The tool, which lets developers span multiple data sources with one RESTful API call via a point-and-click interface, now works with SQL Server, MongoDB and other services available on the Microsoft cloud.

The Silicon Valley startup last month announced its reactive programming-based universal API for "joining" calls to SQL and MongoDB databases, for example, while also providing the ability to apply business logic, authentication and access control, and validation and event handling to specific data stores.

"Espresso provides the fastest way to create REST APIs that span multiple data sources including SQL, NoSQL and enterprise services," the company said. "Using a unique reactive programming approach, Espresso enables developers to write clear and concise business rules to define logic and specify fine-grain security in a fraction of the time it takes using other approaches."

The Espresso Logic approach
[Click on image for larger view.] The Espresso Logic Approach(source: Espresso Logic Inc.)

Reactive programming is a declarative approach in which variables are automatically propagated through the system when referenced values are changed, as in a spreadsheet where cells that contain a formula to present a value are automatically updated when values in dependent cells are changed.

"With reactive programming business rules, any rules defined on business objects perform many types of calculations and validations," the company said. Developers can further extend the logic using JavaScript.

The Espresso service previously worked with Azure SQL Database as a cloud-hosted database, but is now available as a service hosted in Azure and integrated with other Microsoft cloud services.

Espresso says its RESTful BaaS integrates with Visual Studio and Microsoft's own back-end, Azure Mobile Services, accelerating the development of mobile and Web apps. It can also work with other Microsoft technologies such as Azure Active Directory identity and authentication, Microsoft Dynamics, Azure Scheduler, Message Bus and API Management tools.

"As many enterprise customers using Microsoft technologies move to using cloud, we hear time and time again that Azure support is high on their list," said company CEO R. Paul Singh in a statement. "With this integration, we want to make it easier and faster for enterprises and integrators developing new mobile and Web applications on Azure -- regardless of their data source."

The Espresso service is available for a free trial, with a paid developer version costing $50 per month and a production version starting at $500 per month.

Posted by David Ramel on 09/18/2014 at 11:01 AM0 comments


Now All Windows Phone Developers Can Respond to Reviews

Windows Phone developers have spoken and Microsoft has listened: Mobile app builders can now respond to reviews of their wares posted in the store.

After a pilot program that started in April, the functionality is being rolled out to "all eligible Windows Phone developers," said Bernardo Zamora in a blog post yesterday, though it wasn't clear what makes a developer eligible.

You can find out if you're eligible from the Dev Center, where you select the dashboard, click on one of your published apps and look at the review screen. If a "Respond" button appears in the lower-right corner, you're eligible.

This capability was by far the most-requested feature posted on the Windows Platform Developer Feedback site, garnering 2,450 votes compared to 1,337 for the second-place item. More than 48 comments were posted to the "Provide ability for developers to respond to user reviews/feedback" item, which was dated April 17, 2011 (ok, so it took them a while to listen). In fact, a related post, "Rate and Review enhancement," received 945 votes, listing "Ability for Devs to contact the reviewer" as the first suggested enhancement.

"We are over 2,000 votes on this," read one comment posted just before the pilot program started. "Clearly it's something that developers want and Google Play has had this for a long time."

Responding to a review.
[Click on image for larger view.] Responding to a review. (source: Microsoft)

Zamora wrote yesterday, "The feedback from all developers who have been able to respond to reviews has been very positive so far, with developers using this feature to help users resolve questions, inform them of a new version of the app, and increase user satisfaction with their apps."

He cautioned developers to only use the new feature for those aforementioned purposes, as it "should not be used to spam your users, reengage with previous users, or advertise additional apps or services, as described in the Respond to Reviews guidelines."

Among other things, those guidelines state:

Respond to reviews lets you maintain closer contact with your customers: You can let them know about new features or bugs you've fixed that relate to their reviews, or get more specific feedback on how to improve your app. This feature should not be used for marketing purposes. Note that Microsoft respects customer preferences and won't send review responses to customers who have informed us that they don't want to receive them. Also note that you won't receive the customer's personal contact information as part of this feature; Microsoft will send your response directly to the customer. This feature is available for reviews sent from:
  1. Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 devices with Country/Region set to United States.
  2. Any Windows Phone 8.1 device.

If developers don't follow the rules, Microsoft said customers can report inappropriate review responses from a developer via the Report Concern link in the Details section of an app's Store description. "Microsoft retains the right to revoke a developer's permission to send responses when developers don't follow the guidelines," Zamora wrote yesterday.

He also announced that developers can use PayPal as a payout method in a bunch more countries, bringing the total number of markets that offer that functionality to 41.

Posted by David Ramel on 08/13/2014 at 11:14 AM0 comments


Microsoft Encourages Oracle Migrations to SQL Server 2014

Microsoft yesterday unveiled an updated SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) to ease moving existing Oracle databases to SQL Server 2014.

It's the latest back-and-forth effort between the two companies to help users of competitors' RDBMS products switch to each company's own offering.

The free SSMA tool was announced on the TechNet SQL Server Blog.

"Available now, the SSMA version 6.0 for Oracle databases greatly simplifies the database migration process from Oracle databases to SQL Server," Microsoft said. "SSMA automates all aspects of migration including migration assessment analysis, schema and SQL statement conversion, data migration as well as migration testing to reduce cost and reduce risk of database migration projects."

SQL Server 2014 -- officially released in April -- features a new, much-publicized in-memory OLTP capability, and the new SSMA for Oracle can automatically move Oracle tables into SQL Server 2014 in-memory tables. Microsoft said SSMA can process up to 10,000 Oracle objects in one migration and boasts increased performance and report generation.

The new tool supports migrations of Oracle 9i databases and later to SQL Server 2005 editions and later. It's now available for download.

In addition to the in-memory OLTP capability, SQL Server 2014 features in-memory columnstore to boost query performance and hybrid cloud-related features such as the ability to back up to the cloud directly from SQL Server Management Studio. Microsoft also touted its ability to use the Microsoft Azure cloud as a disaster recovery site using SQL Server 2014 AlwaysOn. SQL Server 2014 is available for evaluation.

Oracle: your turn.

Posted by David Ramel on 07/25/2014 at 9:44 AM0 comments


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