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Q&A: Next version of SQL Server will boost scalability, development features

'Katmai' will ship next year, says Microsoft's Ted Kummert

By Heather Havenstein
May 9, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - SEATTLE -- At its first Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference here today, Microsoft Corp.—- which had been holding details about the next version of SQL Server close to the vest — announced the target ship date and new details for the follow-on to SQL Server 2005. Code-named "Katmai," the next release will include support for unstructured data and will boost scalability and administration, saidTed Kummert, Microsoft's corporate vice president of the Data and Storage Platform Division. Kummert spoke to Computerworld today about the next version of SQL Server, which will focus on enterprise scalability, developer productivity and providing users with pervasive insight about data.

Excerpts from the conversation follow.

What are the main new features you expect to be in Katmai, and do you have a more specific targeted release data other than sometime next year? Will it be released in conjunction with Longhorn and Orcas? In terms of the when, we're really happy with SQL Server 2005 and how it is doing for customers and the success it has seen. The other thing we have heard from customers is that five years was a bit too long (to develop SQL Server 2005). We made a decision to have releases of SQL Server on 24-to-36-month intervals. [Katmai] will ship in calendar year 2008.

The product delivers on the core security, reliability, performance and availability. It does so at a low total cost of ownership. [Katmai] is going beyond simplicity in administration. It is about automating those maintenance tasks as a way to really radically decrease total cost of ownership.

One of the big investments we are making is in the declarative management framework — a management of SQL Server and configuration by policy in addition to being able to manage with scripting environments and procedural code. The notion is being able to manage and verify by intent. [For example], my data is configured in a way that is compliant with the policies I want to enforce. We also are adding [support for developers] to raise data up to business terms. I have some data in relational tables that represents a customer object or product object. I can make that available in business terms.

In Katmai, we have a big set of investment around data warehouse scalability. [In SQL Server 2005, we showed] we're no longer just the data mart around the data warehouse. We are performing in those high-scale, mission critical data warehouse deployments today. We are making a big investment to increase storage, in the engine and the query processors.

Microsoft announced today that Katmai will now support unstructured data. A lot of companies have grappled with BI tools that can't access or analyze unstructured data like call center notes and field technicians' notes. Will Katmai help these types of user problems? You need to be able to deal with that unstructured data as part of your applications. A great example would be in the medical industry where you want to attach imaging data to patient records. When I am slicing and dicing my business data, I also need to be able to access and view attributes that are unstructured. That is absolutely a part of this.

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