I talked with Gordon Mangione, Microsoft vice president for SQL Server,after his keynote address at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) conference in Denver. An upcoming issue of SQL Server Magazine UPDATE will feature some of the information I gleaned from our conversation. In the meantime, I want to highlight some of the tidbits Mangione shared in his keynote address.

First, Mangione stressed how important SQL Server is to Microsoft. As a database architect and geek, I'd like to think that Microsoft prizes SQL Server because of data management's beauty and elegance. But I suspect the real reason is that SQL Server is making a significant contribution to Microsoft's bottom line. Last year, SQL Server crossed the billion-dollar revenue mark, making it Microsoft's fourth most profitable software group. Only the Windows client, Windows server, and Microsoft Office product groups surpassed SQL Server revenue.

Server consolidation is a big topic in many IT shops. Mangione's keynote address highlighted the Mark Anthony Group (which makes Mike's Hard Lemonade, among other products) and its redeployment of applications that ran on 19 servers onto one Unisys e-@ction Enterprise Server ES7000 16 CPU machine running SQL Server 2000. Several SQL Server Magazine editors and I had a chance to interview the Mark Anthony Group's Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and I'll share some of the company's lessons learned and best practices in an upcoming commentary.

Microsoft will release SQL Server Windows CE Edition 2.0 in third quarter 2002. Mangione said the development model for SQL Server CE 2.0 will support the same development models that are part of the Microsoft.NET Framework—in particular, ADO.NET. Seamless integration of data-access and development models is crucial if SQL Server CE-based applications are to achieve critical mass, so this announcement was good news.

Mangione also noted Microsoft's recent beta 2 release of its type 4 Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) driver. The company will release the driver to manufacturing in second quarter 2002 and has determined the pricing model—the driver will be free. SQL Server has deep penetration into Windows-based networks, but UNIX and Java developers have found it unnecessarily difficult to develop applications against SQL Server. Full and easy support for JDBC access to SQL Server is vital before SQL Server can hope to succeed in a cross-platform world. I'm pleased that Microsoft is finally providing this support and that the company made the right decision by making the software free. Microsoft has never charged for Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) in the Windows world, and charging for JDBC access would have sent a clear message that the company viewed Java clients as second-class citizens.

In addition, Mangione announced the availability of XML for SQL Server (SQLXML) Web Release 3.0. I'll cover this release in more detail in an upcoming edition of SQL Server Magazine UPDATE, but I wanted to mention intriguing new functionality that this release supports. SQLXML 3.0 lets you publish SQL Server stored procedures as native Web services. This feature gives application architects several new deployment options, and I suspect it also creates some security concerns. The Web services feature is important on its own merit and gives us a glimpse into what Microsoft means when it says that Yukon, the next major SQL Server release, will deeply embed XML and Web-services support in the core engine.

On a final note, Microsoft is getting ready to release SQL Server 7.0 Service Pack 4 (SP4) to beta sites. Are you still running SQL Server 7.0? If so, you might be interested in this beta program. You can sign up on Microsoft's Web site.