Beyond SQL Server

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, DBAs paid attention to SQL Server and ignored other products that Microsoft released. That luxury has been disappearing as products become more complex and interdependent. And the luxury of isolation will become even more a thing of the past over the next year. Later this month, at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC), Microsoft will publicly discuss several new technologies that will affect SQL Server professionals. This week, I give you an overview of these upcoming technologies and their importance to the SQL Server community. And over the coming months, I'll discuss each technology in detail.

SQL Server Yukon

The most important new product for SQL Server professionals is the next release of SQL Server, code-named Yukon. Yukon will feature .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR) integration, T-SQL enhancements, administration and self-tuning improvements, extended business intelligence (BI) functionality, and much more. This release of SQL Server will also come with the new Reporting Services built into it, even though Microsoft is releasing the first version of Reporting Services as a SQL Server 2000 add-in. Microsoft says the Yukon release, which is currently in private beta, will ship in the second half of 2004. Microsoft held an invitation-only Yukon Tech Preview in February, but PDC, which begins October 26, will be the first time that the company will discuss Yukon publicly. Microsoft expects to release another beta edition of Yukon around the same time as PDC.

Windows Longhorn

Longhorn, the code name for Windows' upcoming release, will be a landmark OS because of a new technology called Windows Future Storage (WinFS). DBAs must be skilled with the OS, especially considering the myriad security problems that exist today. WinFS will embody concepts that have been floating around Microsoft for more than a decade. Remember Microsoft saying that the Cairo Windows NT release would include a sophisticated object-oriented file system? Well, the company never delivered the Cairo object-oriented file system, but WinFS is expected to live up to many of Cairo's design ideals. WinFS will use key database technologies from Yukon to provide a rich searching mechanism at the OS file level. The integration of WinFS and core Yukon technologies will let you store BLOB data types more efficiently and will make Yukon a more effective full-text search platform. If WinFS lives up to expectations, it will have a profound effect on the line defining database and OS administrator tasks.

Visual Studio .NET Whidbey

Whidbey is the code name for the upcoming release of Visual Studio .NET and the CLR. Developer-oriented technologies such as Visual Studio .NET and the CLR will become increasingly important to all SQL Server professionals as Yukon provides CLR integration, letting you build stored procedures and other database objects in any .NET-compliant language. In addition, Microsoft has dramatically redesigned SQL Server's toolsets in Yukon. I can't go into details yet, but we'll be saying goodbye to the Microsoft Management Console (MMC)-based SQL Server administration tools and welcoming a new suite of management and SQL Server development tools hosted within a Visual Studio-esque IDE. DBAs will need to be conversant in Visual Studio .NET, which will represent a significant change for some folks but which will also provide productivity enhancements and more features, such as Visual SourceSafe (VSS) versioning of database source code.

I'll address each of these technologies in more detail and from a uniquely SQL Server perspective during the coming months. Plus, watch SQL Server Magazine UPDATE for key SQL Server-related announcements from PDC.

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