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Will Microsoft "Knock Your Socks Off" With SQL Data Services?

Microsoft appears to be revamping its SQL Data Services with plans to add relational services, a move that does not seem to be catching too many observers by surprise.

As reported by blogger Mary Jo Foley last week, it appears Microsoft is overhauling SDS, launched initially one year ago as SQL Server Data Services. For its part, Microsoft is promising some big SDS news at MIX 09 in two weeks. "We will be unveiling some new features that are going to knock your socks off," wrote Microsoft senior program manager David Robinson in the SDS team blog last week.

Perhaps putting pressure on Microsoft is the availability of SQL Server hosted on Amazon's EC2 service and the launch of a cloud-based relational database service launched last week by a two-person startup based on Sun Microsystems' My SQL no less by a former .NET developer .

"The way they built SQL Data Services looks a lot like Amazon's SimpleDB and that's really not a database," said Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at consulting firm twentysix New York and a Microsoft regional director. "It's really an entity store, which works well for some things. It's great for content management for example but for what relational databases are typically used for, not so much.

Making matters worse was that developers had higher expectations, said Oakleaf Systems principal Roger Jennings. "What they promised was full text search, secondary indexes, schemas, and a few other relational niceties but didn't deliver on those. They did deliver support for BLOBS," said Jennings, who tested SDS last summer .

But Microsoft and others may face challenges even with hosting relational versions of databases in the cloud, Jennings has maintained in his blog postings. "I don't think they will be able to scale it," Jennings said, re-iterating his posting last week. "Traditional relational databases don't deliver the extreme scalability expected of cloud computing in general and Azure in particular," he wrote.

"I think the move to the cloud is going to be very hard. It's one of those easier said than done things," Brust added. "This isn't just about hosting the server products."

Are you anxious to hear what Microsoft has planned for SDS? Drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/04/2009

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