Monday, January 3, 2011

Crystal Ball

Firstly, a happy new year to everyone. I'm really looking forward to getting to grips with this year's work and challenges, and I hope that you can say something similar.

There's a major new release of SQL Server in the pipeline, for starters. The preview release has been available for some months now, and it already seems like being the most significant product version since the landmark 2005 release. (It's no accident that SQL Server 2005 is still by far the most popular rendition of the Microsoft DBMS that I come across at customer sites to this day). SSIS functionality gets a long-overdue update in 2011 that introduces important new capabilities to the suite, as well as major updates to the DB engine querying capabilities, spatial data, high availability among other features.

Something to look forward to, then. 2010 was a quiet year on the MS database front. There's certainly been a large push on from Microsoft in the direction of the cloud, with SQL Azure making huge strides in a short time as regards functionality and ease-of-use. While cloud database services have the possibility to completely change the way we develop and interact with database architecture, it remains to be seen whether businesses (in the short-to-medium term) will want to surrender their data to an external entity. Regardless of your point of view on the morality or legality of the WikiLeaks affair, Amazon's actions in closing infrastructure access to the organisation highlights one of the inherent weaknesses of cloud computing; your business is dependent not only on the professionalism and technical foundations of external parties, but also on the goodwill of external governments and other agencies. Would you host your online bookstore database on Amazon Web Services? Your online presentation app with Microsoft Azure? Your mapping technology with Google? The technical barriers to cloud application and data delivery have practically disappeared already, but questions regarding ownership, permissions, entitlements and responsibilities arise that were never an issue in a world of applications and data hosted on private data centres.

It promises to be an interesting year.

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