Business Intelligence a Key for SQL Server 2008

Developers can now take a first hand look at Microsoft's next major upgrade of its flagship database platform. The company this week released its first Community Technical Preview (CTP) of SQL Server 2008, formerly known as "Katmai."

Microsoft launched the CTP and bestowed the official name of the database at its TechEd event, which was held this week in Orlando, Fla. SQL Server 2008 won't ship before next year, but Microsoft will issue new CTPs every 60 days rather than issue a beta. It's a plan that Microsoft announced after the release of SQL Server 2005.

"We felt it was a better way to get feedback from the community," said Kimberly Colley, a SQL Server product manager. "We can release them on a more regular basis. We will be adding new features and functionality on a regular schedule."

Microsoft is touting four key capabilities that will be the basis of SQL Server 2008: dynamic development, support for unstructured data types, support for mission critical applications and business intelligence.

Reinforcing its bid to push SQL Server into the business intelligence category, Microsoft disclosed that it acquired the intellectual property of three key tools from Dundas Data Visualization Inc.

The three tools, which Microsoft had already licensed and embedded into SQL Server 2008, include Dundas Gauge, Dundas Map and Dundas Chart. Microsoft sees business intelligence, analytics and business performance management as elements that are key to the value proposition of SQL Server 2008. Hence it decided to acquire the code.

Along with the acquisition, which took place several months ago, 11 Dundas engineers have joined Microsoft. Redmond found Dundas' visualization products to be key to its SQL Server 2008 development efforts, according to Colley.

"We found that visualization products were so integral to reporting services that we wanted to incorporate them directly into the product and innovate on top of those," Colley said.

The current version of SQL Server utilizes a lightweight version of Dundas products, according to Troy Machand, president of the Toronto-based company.

"They just exposed a basic feature set," Machand says. "But a lot of people want to have more."

The technology transfer only applies to SQL Server 2008. For any prior versions, Dundas will continue to support the visualization software, Machand said. Dundas will also continue to build new functionality, which it will pass on to Microsoft.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of and news editor of Visual Studio Magazine.