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When Applications And Databases Collide

By Clint Boulton     Feedback

You get loosely coupled data services, according to Microsoft officials during the VSLive keynote.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Once thought of as two separate worlds, applications and database software are converging due to the increasingly distributed nature of modern computing.

Bill Baker, general manager of SQL Server Business Intelligence, said the proliferation of service-oriented architectures (SOA) and Web services prompted his team to consider how to rearrange the architecture of SQL Server 2005.

During his keynote at VSLive Tuesday, the engineer said the demand for large, monolithic applications is being replaced by nimble data services of heterogeneous natures that need to be loosely coupled to span an array of computing devices. This is causing end-user-facing applications to mingle with functions in the back-end database world.

"The world of the database and application programming is completely opaque," Baker said. "Now database designers and architects are using the same process as the application programmers. Things that used to be in the domain of the database programmer are falling into the domain of the application programmer and vice versa."

To highlight what Baker meant, SQL Server 2005 Product Manager Herain Oberoi used an example of fictional retail company AdventureWorks.

The company had a number of surplus bicycle racks it wanted to shed, so it turned to its marketing officials to try and find out who had a bike, how far away from the company they lived, whether or not they were married, etc. These are all factors used to determine the probability of whether or not a consumer might be motivated to purchase a bike rack.

Oberoi used a data-mining feature from SQL Server 2005 in Visual Studio to calculate the consumer information and rendered it cleanly in SQL Reporting Services using a series of simple drag-and-drop functions.

The point was that the business intelligence functionality from SQL Server 2005 can be applied to the application layers within Visual Studio to render clear, accurate information for business users who don't necessarily have a lot of programming experience.

There is no bombshell in the fact that the product will feature new business intelligence features, a service broker that adds asynchronous functionality to database applications, native XML Web services support, caching at the middle tier and new security features.

But Baker said SQL Server 2005 was finally finished yesterday after production testing with 30 to 40 customers. It is scheduled to go public along with Visual Studio 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006 at a Nov. 7 launch in San Francisco.

For Microsoft to move toward a distributed computing architecture across much of its product line means the company has several fingers on the pulse of an industry that has been evolving toward SOAs and Web services for the last few years.

Research firms like Gartner, IDC and ZapThink say the market for SOAs and Web services is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and deployments continue.

This article was originally published on October 11, 2005
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