Would Microsoft Move Yahoo To SQL Server?

Microsoft’s $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo last week certainly opened up a new saga in Redmond and Silicon Valley. Only time will tell whether Microsoft actually bags Yahoo. If it does, Microsoft certainly has created plenty of food for thought for database administrators and developers, who will certainly want to see how Redmond handles Yahoo's data management infrastructure.

Yahoo, of course, is one of the many success stories touted by MySQL, the largest supplier of open source database software, which last month agreed to be acquired by Sun Microsystems for $1 billon.

MySQL is the underlying database of numerous Yahoo properties including Yahoo Finance and the Flickr photo sharing services, among other highly trafficked properties. So that begs the question: Would Microsoft actually swap out the MySQL infrastructure and put in SQL Server in the spirit of its Windows Everywhere message?

I spoke to Jeffrey McManus, principal of San Francisco consulting firm Platform Associates and a former director of Yahoo's developer network from 2005-2006, who had an interesting perspective on that and other implications of Microsoft acquiring Yahoo.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/06/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments


SQL Server 2008 Delay: The Writing Was on the Wall

As you no doubt have read, Microsoft made official what some had quietly anticipated all along: that SQL Server 2008, code-named Katmai, might not make the company's target release to manufacturing (RTM) date of the second quarter.

The writing has been on the wall for a while. The company's goal of releasing community technology previews in 60-day batches fell by the wayside in the fall, and conversations with Microsoft always seemed to leave the door open for it to slip. Indeed, most in the SQL Server community appear to be willing to cut Microsoft some slack if it's one quarter late.

When I asked Wayne Snyder, president of the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) user group, about it, he echoed what others had to say: "I would prefer a little disappointment and delay in receipt, rather than an on-time delivery of a flawed product," he responded in an e-mail. "I think they should keep it until it is ready."

However, he added, "But I wish it would be ready sooner."

Certainly, Microsoft's impressive 2Q results last week give the company some wiggle room. But it does beg the question: Will this be the only delay (which Microsoft describes as a "clarification") to its road map? If we give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt and, at best, SQL Server 2008 appears later this summer, it still leaves many wondering about the purpose of having a big launch party, which kicks off in late February in Los Angeles.

Anthony Carrabino, SQL Server's senior product manager, explained in a blog posting that the Los Angles event is a marketing event for the three key enterprise platform products -- which, in addition to SQL Server, include 2008 versions of Windows Server and Visual Studio. "It makes sense for us to create a single event for delivering information about these exciting new releases," Carrabino wrote. "As a result, the 'launch' event provides IT professionals, developers and software enthusiasts alike with an exciting and convenient way to have fun learning about all three products in one place."

Does this delay come as a setback for your plans? If you're on an earlier platform, will you instead upgrade to SQL Server 2005 or wait for the newest version? Drop us a line at [email protected] and let us know what it means to you.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/30/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Will Sun Cast a Shadow on Other Database Platforms?

It's rather ironic, but Sun's surprise move last week to acquire database supplier MySQL for $1 billion could actually give the open source DBMS a boost in the market, while at the same time bolstering SQL Server.

Following the announcement, I had a chance to talk with Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg, who had some poignant thoughts on the deal. The way he sees it, the deal probably hurts Oracle the most, since Sun has focused much of its database efforts on Oracle and it is the Oracle customer base most likely -- for pricing reasons -- to be looking to other database platforms.

The deal could pose threats to IBM and Microsoft too, though Feinberg says it could ironically help Microsoft in many situations, given the lower cost of SQL Servers licensing. In fact, customers looking for features such as analytics, reporting and integration services, might be more likely to consider SQL Server 2005/2008, Feinberg says.

That said, Feinberg and fellow analyst George Weiss issued a research note this week, pointing out that the deal will help grow the open source database market as well, especially as Sun adds management and other capabilities to My SQL.

Jeff Gould, CEO & director of desearch at Peerstone Research, is much more skeptical. He asks, how can a company with $70 million in revenues be worth $1 billion?

"Only time will tell," Gould writes. "But in my humble opinion, MySQL's open source business model will make Sun's road to payback a lot steeper than if it had bought a software company with conventional revenues and profits.

Hopefully more will come to light in April during the MySQL conference and expo in Santa Clara, Calif.

What's your opinion on how this move will affect the database platform market? Drop me a line at [email protected]and let me know.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/23/2008 at 1:15 PM7 comments


Free PASS Available For SQL Server 2008 CTP

Want to take SQL Server 2008 for a test drive but perhaps you don't have the computing resources to run it? The Professional Association For SQL Server, the umbrella user group for Microsoft's flagship database, has opened up a hosted site for just that purpose. PASS has enlisted Louisville, Ky.-based MaximumASP and Dell to provide the resources to host the Community Technology Preview. Originally offered to Microsoft MVPs in November when CTP5 was released, PASS opened it up free of charge to any potential customer who wants to test SQL Server 2008.

Wayne Snyder, who became president of PASS earlier this month, says there are many testers who would prefer to test it on a hosted server.

"For me, I am using the CTPs, and using my four or six gigs of disk space is a lot of aggravation -- that's a lot for someone who just wants to jump on and play with some features," says Snyder, who is also managing consultant for Mariner USA, a BI software vendor that is a Microsoft Gold Partner.

Nearly 700 testers have signed on for the special CTP licenses, says Sarah Barela, MaximumASP's manager of database services. "We are getting about 20 people a day," Barela says. The vast majority, she adds, are trying it out primarily for to see what the new database looks like. "Everyone is especially interested in the database," she says. Testers can use the full client or a run it through Terminal Services, she adds.

Potential testers can sign in here to test the current CTP. When new CTPs are released, the company says customer data will be migrated within 36 hours.

Have you tried the CTP either via SQLServerBeta.com or via native download? Let us know what you think at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/15/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Microsoft Commerce Server Boss Now at Cactus Commerce

Ryan Donovan, who had been the public face of Microsoft's Commerce server efforts, now works for Cactus Commerce.

A few months ago, Ottawa-based Cactus Commerce took on further development of Commerce Server, irking the Commerce Server ISVs and VARs who did not happen to be Cactus Commerce.

When the turnover was disclosed in August, a Microsoft official -- yes, that would have been Ryan Donovan -- maintained that Commerce Server remained a strategic product to Microsoft. The story then was that since Commerce Server implementations take a tremendous amount of customization work, that Microsoft needed expertise to streamline delivery of such custom work.

That news capped months of speculation about Commerce Server’s roadmap and months of Microsoft silence on that topic.

Donovan did not return a call to his Cactus Commerce number requesting comment. He no longer has an extension listed at Microsoft.

Barbara Darrow, industry editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Developer News and Redmond Channel Partner, can be reached at [email protected]

Posted by Barbara Darrow on 12/04/2007 at 1:15 PM1 comments


Microsoft Presses Enterprise Mobile Into Service

Here's an example of why Microsoft's so smart.

Most people realize the company's whole mobile effort -- Windows CE, Windows Mobile, etc. -- hasn't exactly hit the cover off the ball. And they've been at it for quite a while.

So what do they do? Some emissary -- in this case word is it was Steve Ballmer himself -- goes to his old buddy/nemesis (frenemy?) Mort Rosenthal, formerly of Corporate Software, once Microsoft's largest large account resellers who has since reverted to entrepreneurdom.

With some Microsoft money, Mort founded Enterprise Mobile to bridge the Microsoft desktop-to-cell-phone gap. Rosenthal had been involved in another mobile-focused startup.

Microsoft, for all its claims to the contrary, knows its mobile push hasn't pried Blackberries out of many hands, and wants a way to leverage (ugh, that word again) its desktop monopoly...er, dominance, in phone land.

If there's anything most workers know, it's Word, or Excel or Outlook. If they're a field person, they would very much like to connect back to their mothership files and spreadsheets.

Here's an account of Enterprise Mobile's coming out party.

The lesson here is if you have a technology/platform that no one's developing for, fund yourself a startup that will do the development for you, and perhaps jumpstart demand.

--Barbara Darrow is industry editor for Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, and Redmond Developer News. She can be reached at [email protected].

Posted by Barbara Darrow on 11/30/2007 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Dev Notes From Around The 'Internets'

Here's some stuff flying around the "Internets" that may be of interest to developers.

First, the chatty Marc Fleury, ex of JBoss, flames some of the Apache faithful.

First of all, you gotta love anyone who leads with that terrific Kissinger quote. And also anyone who brings up aging Star Trek conventioneers.

Also, Microsoft is renaming Silverlight 1.1 (drum roll please) Silverlight 2.0 as noted in Scott Guthrie's blog.

Soma Somasegar also weighed in with the unsurprising rationale: "The Silverlight 1.1 versioning simply didn't do the enhancements justice so we decided to rename the next version to "Silverlight 2.0."

A new beta is due first quarter of next year.

Barbara Darrow, industry editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Developer News and Redmond Channel Partner, can be reached at [email protected]

Posted by Barbara Darrow on 11/29/2007 at 1:15 PM0 comments


MCPs Get Knowledge Base Windfall

Talk about jaded.

After years covering channel partners and their vendor relationships, my first reaction to news that Microsoft is giving MCPs the same access to its Knowledge Base as partners, was: "MY GOD, what will the partners say?"

Second thought: Probably not much. Especially since most partners employ MCPs, sometimes in large numbers as part their partner program requirements.

The truth lies, as usual, somewhere in the middle.

One northeastern Microsoft Gold partner took the news in stride, but with caveats and some great insight.

"Normally you want your [vendor] communications to flow through the organization, not individuals," he explains. But, given that Microsoft is playing catch up with Google in consumer-focused activities it realizes it has to open up the pipe more to people individually, he adds.

Bob Shear, president of Greystone Solutions, a Boston-based Gold partner sees nothing but good for his business anyway.

If this move "makes Microsoft products easier to install and use, it's all good. Our Gold status gives us some free software licenses, some field attention, but I don't trade on it as the reason people should use us. If I were an HP-slash-Microsoft guy trying to sell packaged systems I might not like it though because it takes away one of my check marks," he says. Such turnkey partners may be more likely to advertise their own vendor relationships as a selling point, he says.

On the other hand, the fact that Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) Knowledge Base is also included could be a big red flag to authorized MBS partners who zealously guard their status.

Paul Barter, vice president of strategy for T4G, a Toronto Gold-certified partner with expertise in retail and e-commerce, says Microsoft is negotiating the area between the software-as-a-service-fits-all-needs camps and the real world.

Some camps -- Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Google -- maintain SaaS is perfect for all needs. Others say on-premise is always best. "The reality is somewhere in the middle and Microsoft's "software plus services" message is just right, Barter says.

As more customers try the SaaS model, Microsoft's channel will morph and it must pay attention to individual consultants etc.

Toronto-based T4G employs about 100 MCPs, Barter says.

Lutz Ziob, general manager of Microsoft Learning agreed that the focus of the MCP program is the person, not the organization. But he hastens to add that partner benefits go beyond what MCPs get in terms of training and resources.

"We're trying to figure out the right bundle of services at the individual level," Ziob said in an interview. Of the 2.2 million MCPs Microsoft claims worldwide, he estimates that nearly half (40 to 45%) work for partner organizations. (He bases this figure on voluntary surveys).

Other factoids: 15 to 20 percent are developers, while the remaining 80 percent or so are self-identified IT people.

The latest round of MCP benefit improvements keys off the coming release of Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008, he notes.

Starting two years ago, MCP certification got more granular. A certification will now be for Windows Server 2003 or 2008, not just Windows Server, for example.

And, those certifications will be tied to product support and de-support.

"You can keep calling yourself as Windows 2000-certified but -- the value of that designation will diminish as the product loses support," he said.

Microsoft's support lifecycle typically includes five years of mainstream support and an additional five years of extended support from product launch.

 

Barbara Darrow, Industry Editor can be reached at [email protected]

Posted by Barbara Darrow on 11/27/2007 at 1:15 PM2 comments


SAP-Business Objects Deal Should Have No .NET Impact

This week’s bombshell that SAP will acquire Business Objects for $6.7 billion is perhaps the largest milestone yet in the business intelligence, analytics, reporting and corporate performance management market. Despite the hugeness of this deal -- presuming it goes through -- it should not be disruptive to Windows and .NET developers, since both vendors’ offerings already have strong integration with Microsoft’s programming environment and tools including Visual Studio, as well as platforms such as Sharepoint and SQL Server.

I talked with a few analysts this week to get their take on the impact this deal might have to Windows developers.

“There’s already a lot of tight integration there, and all of the functionality of the Business Objects Enterprise XI environment is exposed through .NET, and available to any Visual Studio developer as well as through Java classes and APIs,” says James Kobielus, an analyst at Current Analysis. “Quite frankly both Business Objects and SAP have extremely strong Office and Sharepoint integration already and I don’t think they are going to slice that off at all.”

Forrester analyst Boris Evelson agrees that the impact should be minimal on developers for the Microsoft programming and application infrastructure stack but could have implications on those who use Business Objects’ tools.

“SAP will definitely push Business Objects to do entire integration with NetWeaver [formerly known as SAP Business Warehouse] and maybe pay less attention to other integration areas,” Evelson says. “But from a core Windows developer perspective, I don’t think this is a significant event.” For more on Evelson’s take on the SAP-Business Objects deal, check out his blog.

On the other hand, the deal invariably will step up the competitive stakes between SAP/Business Objects and Microsoft, which just released its PerformancePoint 2007 server last month. SAP, Business Objects and now Microsoft all offer competitive corporate performance management.

“These guys are already competitors, so we will see this 'coopetition' while they slug it out in the financial CPM space, as they all try to get deeper into the verticalized analytics tools,” Kobielus says. Also look for Microsoft to forge closer ties between its own Microsoft Dynamics, PerformancePoint and SQL Server Reporting and Analysis teams.

The bottom line here is consolidation in the BI business has been under way for some time. Oracle shelled out $3.3 billion for Hyperion earlier this year, and with SAP nabbing Business Objects, the market leader in the BI/CPM market -- the only other comparable fish out there is Cognos.

Will Cognos remain independent for some time or will someone snatch it in short order? Kobielus points out that there is no shortage of vendors who would like to fill out their software portfolios with Cognos, or some of the smaller suppliers of point BI solutions. The list of candidates is quite long: BEA Systems, CA, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Tibco, to name a few. Even Oracle has a history of coming back for more. And though it seems unlikely, never underestimate what Microsoft may be contemplating.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/11/2007 at 1:15 PM3 comments


Intellisense On Tap For Next SQL Server 2008 CTP

The long wait is about to come to an end. The Intellisense with the Transact-SQL language service in SQL Server will indeed be available in the next Community Test Preview (CTP) of 'Katmai,' the code-name for Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008. That indeed was one of the most widely sought after features among SQL Server developers after it was removed from a beta of SQL Server 2005 several years ago and hasn’t been seen since.

Indeed, there was some rumbling when Intellisense didn’t show up in the most recent Katmai CTPs. Microsoft is so committed to getting it into the next test version, that perhaps that’s why the CTP has been delayed by a few weeks. Microsoft is only saying that it wants the next CTP to have several key features.

Skeptical that Intellisense will make the cut? Dan Jones, lead program manager for Microsoft’s SQL Server management team promised attendees of last week’s VSLive! regional conference in New York that you can take to the bank the fact that Intellisense will be in the next CTP.

"This thing is going to be in there," he told attendees. "You can hunt me down if it gets out." Indeed the news drew applause both at VSLive (an event produced by Redmond Media Group, which publishes this newsletter) and the annual Professional Association for SQL Server user conference in Denver, which also took place last week. Kevin Kline, president of PASS and SQL Server technical strategy manager at Quest Software, says developers were thrilled to hear the news.

"Everyone is excited about is Intellisense," Kline says. Developers who use the new feature and want (or need) to program or use a T-SQL command, can do so "without having to live with the syntax manual in hand," he adds. It could cut tons of time off development, he adds. "This means hours and hours and hours every week that will be saved by having this feature."

Other features that will appear in the next CTP include the declarative management framework, which will let organizations set policies against multiple SQL Server databases and support for geospatial data.

Are you testing Katmai? Let me know what you think. Also, for the many who are still on SQL Server 2000, let us know if you’re thinking of jumping up to Katmai, or if you’re going to move to SQL Server 2005. I can be reached at [email protected].

Calling on Oracle 11g Developers

A choose-your-own-ending type of migration story.

Meanwhile Microsoft is courting Oracle users offering 50 percent discounts to those who migrate off Oracle databases onto SQL Server. The timing comes as Oracle is readying the Windows version of its 11g database for release by year’s end.

One .NET database developer who sent me an e-mail this week may be a good candidate to take Microsoft up on its offer. The customer, who runs applications on Oracle 10g running on Windows, decided to migrate to Oracle 11g, which last month was released for Linux servers. He exported a schema that is used for a Web site he manages. While all looked well (the data was there and the account was accessible), when it came to the Web server login, the user names and passwords were invalid, though he could login using SQL*Plus (Oracle’s command-line SQL and PL/SQL interface and reporting tools that ships with Oracle databases). He believes the new password security is causing the problem.

"Because of the sensitive downtime of the Web site, I had to start the old 10g database to allow the account to log in," he writes. He does want to get to the 11g database, but needs to solve this problem. When I asked if he tried Oracle’s technical support, he said, yes but to no avail. Anyone out there have any suggestions? Add your comment to this blog or e-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/26/2007 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Calling on Oracle 11g Developers

Microsoft is courting Oracle users offering 50 percent discounts to those who migrate off Oracle databases onto SQL Server. The timing comes as Oracle is readying the Windows version of its 11g database for release by year’s end.

One .NET database developer who sent me an e-mail this week may be a good candidate to take Microsoft up on its offer. The customer, who runs applications on Oracle 10g running on Windows, decided to migrate to Oracle 11g, which last month was released for Linux servers. He exported a schema that is used for a Web site he manages. While all looked well (the data was there and the account was accessible), when it came to the Web server login, the user names and passwords were invalid, though he could login using SQL*Plus (Oracle’s command-line SQL and PL/SQL interface and reporting tools that ships with Oracle databases). He believes the new password security is causing the problem.

"Because of the sensitive downtime of the Web site, I had to start the old 10g database to allow the account to log in," he writes. He does want to get to the 11g database, but needs to solve this problem. When I asked if he tried Oracle’s technical support, he said, yes but to no avail. Anyone out there have any suggestions? Add your comment to this blog or e-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/26/2007 at 1:15 PM3 comments


'Katmai' Waiting Game

Are you going to the Microsoft PASS SQL Server Users Conference and Expo in Denver next week? If so, let us know what you will be looking to find out.

One area that will see increased focus this year is around the reporting services in SQL Server. "I think people are realizing BI as a whole has matured and the industry is pushing the use if BI technology to help users get meaningful data out of the databases," says Josh Jones, a database administrator with IntrinsiQ Research Inc. and author of the forthcoming book, Architecting Database Models for SQL Server (Pearson Education).

Jones says companies are realizing they can’t just scrape data off of a staging database or an OLTP server. As a contributor to Redmond Developer News and an active participant in the SQL Server user groups, Jones will be on the scene at next week’s conference.

In addition to BI, one thing that will certainly be top of mind at the SQL Server Users Conference is Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008 -- code named "Katmai." The first CTP was released at TechEd in June and the second one at the end of July. We're all expecting to see another some time this month, which would be in keeping with Microsoft’s plan to release new CTPs every 60 days. Jones says one of the key things he believes development managers are grappling with is whether to migrate to SQL Server 2005, or wait for SQL Server 2008.

"I think people are still trying to get their hands around what it means for their legacy code, and their licensing, and their development and test clusters," Jones says.

At last count, Microsoft reported only 20,000 downloads of the SQL Server 2008 CTP. Are you among them? Or are you reluctant to get on board? Let me know why by posting here or sending me e-mail at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/12/2007 at 1:15 PM1 comments


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