SQL Server '08 Adds Dev Perks

It took longer than expected, but the latest CTP is now available, adding clear encryption, better reporting and geospatial support.

SQL Server 2008's promised support for clear encryption could free up enterprise developers' screens for other tasks.

With the three-year-old SQL Server 2005 release, developers had to tweak their applications in order to take advantage of the database's encryption.

Francois AjenstatA new resource governor, which along with clear encryption is in the latest community technology preview (CTP), will enable developers and DBAs to prioritize important jobs over not-so-critical tasks, says Francois Ajenstat, director of SQL Server project management.

But perhaps the biggest perk could be that this database isn't a huge leap from the current release, testers say. Given how significant the change from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005 was, that's a good thing.

Even planned support for new spatial data types within the repository does not seem to be shaking their contention.

"We see SQL Server 2008 as more evolutionary versus revolutionary," says Lee Blackstone, CEO of Blackstone & Cullen Inc., an Atlanta-based database expert.

None of these new features "are hugely revolutionary," adds Andrew Brust, chief of new technologies for twentysix New York. "This is a much smaller release than SQL Server 2005 and that's probably good. A lot of shops are still running the previous release and it'll be helpful that this isn't as big a leap."

He predicts that many companies may opt to move from SQL Server 2000 directly, skipping the interim step.

And despite the fact that CTP 3 didn't hit its promised due date -- Microsoft had promised a CTP every 60 days and this one came at 90 days and counting -- Ajenstat says the promised second quarter 2008 delivery date of the database is not at risk.

Supporting Spatial Data
Spatial data support means the database could backstop the development of location-based apps using GPS and/or GIS data. Microsoft promised to ship an SDK with integration to its Visual Earth app with the next CTP out of the chute. Ajenstat says that support will be included with the database, not priced separately, as is the case with Oracle Corp. The spatial support will be included across all server editions of SQL Server 2008 from Express to Enterprise, Ajenstat says.

Ajenstat says Microsoft will ship updated bits to ensure that the ADO.NET Entity Framework, which should be complete with this database, will be synchronized in Visual Studio 2008. Microsoft last year pulled the framework from Visual Studio and made the database the delivery vehicle instead, sparking some concern.

A successful implementation of this framework would enable developers to program using objects rather than lines of code. Developers don't necessarily know how the data in the store is structured or how the tables were built. Now they won't need to, Ajenstat says.

Microsoft continues to jockey with Oracle and IBM Corp. for database dominance. While Oracle still leads the pack in the enterprise realm and has made an aggressive push into small and midsize businesses in the last few years, SQL Server has gained respect and share in databases, according to researchers IDC and Gartner Inc.

Microsoft Releases Sync Framework Preview
Developers can create applications and services that enable collaboration and offline data management.
by Kurt Mackie

Microsoft has released the first community technology preview (CTP) of its Microsoft Sync Framework -- software that lets developers create applications and services that enable collaboration and offline data management.

Applications built with the Sync Framework can easily synchronize any kind of data with any other kind of system, according to Anthony Carrabino, Microsoft's senior product manager for SQL Server. The Sync Framework will work with servers, peer-to-peer connections or even jump drives. Moreover, very little code is needed by the developer to enable it.

Microsoft has used a similar kind of synchronization capability with applications such as its Outlook e-mail and scheduling software. Outlook synchronizes with Microsoft Exchange Server, but the process is transparent to the user. However, it can be difficult for developers to do that sort of synchronization with other applications, and that's what's so important about Microsoft's new Sync Framework, Carrabino explains.

"We've had to create synchronization technologies for various applications," Carrabino says. The Sync Framework removes all of the boundaries with the data you're trying to synchronize, he adds. Developers can use any kind of transport call with it, eliminating the need to utilize any particular network configuration to support synchronization.

With the Sync Framework, developers don't have to roll their own synchronization technologies into every application, he adds. The Sync Framework is reusable and extensible, so, as developers build one solution, they can use the same synchronization technology for another application.

Currently, Microsoft Visual Studio enables synchronization via offline scenarios, where data are cached to the local machine. However, doing that takes some coding and work on the part of the developer. The Sync Framework promises to automate this effort. It will enable rapid development on Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, NTFS file systems and removable drives, according to Microsoft.

Carrabino says the Sync Framework is not just for databases. "We really want people to understand that this is a general-purpose synchronization framework that can handle any kind of data," he says. The Sync Framework can support other platforms besides Microsoft Windows, too. However, at this point -- at the CTP level -- Microsoft is just looking at getting feedback from other companies on the technology, Carrabino says.

About the Author

Barbara Darrow is Industry Editor for Redmond Developer News, Redmond magazine and Redmond Channel Partner. She has covered technology and business issues for 20 years.

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