A look into the future
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Microsoft’s upcoming database management system (DBMS) release, SQL Server 2008, will cause ripples throughout the database management market. Find out which Microsoft and third-party database management products will have the tools you need to stay on top of SQL Server development, administration, and business intelligence (BI) challenges in the coming year.
Like a modern-day Nostradamus, IT managers and SQL Server administrators need to keep an eye on the future to make sure that their current technology and infrastructure investments stay relevant in the months and years to come. The next year promises to be eventful for the SQL Server industry, so we thought that a bit of soothsaying and prognostication—teamed with sage advice from some experts—would help you navigate a sensible route through the latest technology developments and noteworthy product releases.
Because the upcoming release of SQL Server 2008 will bring new developments from Microsoft that will cause ripples throughout the market, we also wanted to let you know which third-party products have the tools you need to stay on top of next year’s challenges. To help you plot a safe course over the next year, we spoke with industry experts in three SQL Server areas: development, administration, and business intelligence (BI).
In the development space, new technologies and Microsoft’s product releases promise to make evolutionary changes in how databases are developed. The arrival of Language-Integrated Query (LINQ) will change the way database administrators and developers work together, and the updated ADO.NET framework with Visual Studio 2008 will drive innovation by streamlining application development. Accompanying Microsoft’s developer innovations, we’re seeing a lot of rapid application development (RAD) tools coming to market, which could give overworked developers good alternatives to traditional development methods.
When it comes to database administration, how will the rapidly decreasing cost (and quickly increasing power) of computer hardware and disk storage affect your SQL Server environment? One prediction here is easy: You’ll definitely want to jump on the virtualization bandwagon. Once confined to use as a tool for test environments or server consolidation, virtualization is emerging as a significant tool for every IT infrastructure. We’ll discuss how virtualization is influencing SQL Server implementations everywhere.
On the BI front, it’s abundantly clear that large enterprises are increasingly turning to database-driven BI solutions to help them make better decisions about their businesses. The BI segment has been white-hot lately, with corporate acquisitions (Microsoft buying Dundas Data Visualization) and significant new product releases (such as Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server) driving even more interest and competition into the area. If you’re tasked with deploying a BI solution in your organization, what tools and trends should you look for?
As you head into the new year, you need to be prepared for the trends and tools that will determine how you do your job and make your company successful. Let’s see what the future holds.
Demand will continue to be high in the coming year for developers who write business applications with SQL Server back ends. In fact, the need for quick and efficient coding is so great that we’re seeing the emergence of a new breed of development tools. These tools include products that make it easy for developers and DBAs to quickly prototype, test, and deploy applications built on top of SQL Server.
Products such as DataKraft’s DataKraft Studio and Biro M&T’s NConstruct let you create basic database- driven applications quickly without coding. For heterogeneous environments, you’ll see cross-platform development tools such as Embarcadero Technologies’ Rapid SQL. SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 promise to introduce a number of features that should benefit database developers, beginning with better support for the ADO.NET entity framework and LINQ—not to forget Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals.
“The new ADO.NET Entity Framework enables more efficient software creation by giving developers the ability to work with logical data entities, or objects, that are mapped to the underlying tables and columns in the database,” says David Gugick, director of product management for SQL Server solutions at Quest Software. “By abstracting the underlying complexity of a normalized database, developers can work with meaningful objects that represent the business, rather than trying to understand the raw tables and column definitions a DBA may be more comfortable with. This keeps developers business focused.”
Gugick also points to the introduction of LINQ with SQL Server 2008 as another boon for developers. “LINQ allows developers to query SQL Server using managed code in their language of choice—such as C# or Visual Basic—rather than relying on embedded SQL statements. The end result is that developers will be creating SQL Server applications more quickly than they ever could.”
Harried DBA developers are also increasingly facing issues related to time (or lack thereof), a trend that Gugick sees as a driving force behind their decision to look at third-party tools to ease their workload. “If you asked most database professionals what they want out of their third-party toolsets, I’m certain you would hear a clear desire to have those tools help them get a handle on their environment, reduce their workload, and increase their productivity,” says Gugick. “In other words, saving them time.”
To help you meet your future development demands, we’ve put together a list of some of the key products and tools in the XML, ASP.NET, and database utility categories.
New releases from Microsoft again set the stage for competition to heat up in 2008. First, the release of Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2007, with its support for SQL Server, will stir up third-party backup and continuous data protection (CDP) solutions to differentiate themselves and add value. Everyone needs good backup and recovery solutions, and this will be the year to find the best fit for your situation as vendors vie for your business.
Virtualization is already having a major impact on the IT industry, and recent trends indicate that virtualization will have a more significant effect on how databases are secured, backed up, and managed in the future. “We’re still at the beginning in terms of virtualizing database applications,” says VMware senior director of product marketing Bogomil Balkansky. “About 60 percent of our customers are telling us that they run databases in virtual machines, and it is only a matter of time before more customers are doing the same.” Balkansky explains that virtualization is still in its infancy, and that remaining concerns about running databases in virtual machines (VMs)—such as I/O performance and management complexity—will continue to be addressed over time. Balkansky points to several areas in which virtualization is already indirectly affecting database environments, ranging from server consolidation in the data center to an increase in the availability of other network resources, such as storage and backup. VMware is the established leader in virtualization, but you can expect a flurry of new virtualization products and novel solutions.
Microsoft is also jumping into the virtualization space in a big way with the upcoming release of Windows Server virtualization (WSv), the hypervisor solution designed as part of Windows Server 2008. WSv requires virtualization support in the processor, a feature that both the Intel VT and AMD-V processors provide. Large database applications also require beefy hardware. So you’ll see Intel’s and AMD’s quadcore servers playing a leading role in all sorts of SQL Server solutions.
With these trends in mind, you’ll need to know what products are available and what products are on the horizon to meet your demands. We’ve created a list of some of the key players in backup and recovery, virtualization, and hardware.
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The coming year will be a defining year for BI products because Microsoft is determined to make BI mainstream. According to Francois Ajenstat, Microsoft director of product management for SQL Server, BI has become a priority for CIOs. “BI is now the number one CIO priority according to Gartner,” says Ajenstat. “I believe that more users will want to benefit from the value of BI…proprietary and costly solutions are no longer required and won’t enable pervasive BI to become a reality.”
Microsoft’s initiative is to provide an end-to-end solution that integrates BI from the DBA to the business user through Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. Although SQL Server 2005 includes powerful BI components, Microsoft has stepped up the BI features in SQL Server 2008. SQL Server 2008 includes a BI platform that offers data integration and management, enhanced reporting options that let you create reports in Microsoft Word or Excel, and analysis tools such as SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) data mining algorithms.
Microsoft is out to conquer the business end of BI, starting with its new performance management release, Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007. This product lets you monitor and analyze business performance as well as plan business activities.
“We need to step back and look at Microsoft’s BI offering, which starts with SQL Server for the BI infrastructure, Office 2007 (Excel, SharePoint) for end user delivery, and PerformancePoint Server for analytical applications,” explains Ajenstat. “SQL Server is the foundation that enables our pervasive BI vision to become a reality and ultimately ensure that we add value to any decision at any levels of the company.”
New to the BI scene in 2007 were BI servers. HP announced that it would offer a server preconfigured with SQL Server 2005, which can be used to deploy BI solutions. Microsoft and Dell recently followed suit: Dell began producing a line of its PowerEdge servers preconfigured with SQL Server 2005, and will begin offering PowerEdge servers preconfigured with SQL Server 2008 following the SQL Server 2008 launch. Dell will also offer servers preconfigured with PerformancePoint Server 2007 as an add-on.
With all this activity coming from the big players, we expect the BI market to really heat up in 2008. Whether you’re thinking about BI solutions or are already implementing them, you’ll want to pay close attention to this market. 2008 will be the year when you’ll be seeing lots of new BI products and initiatives. We’ve listed the products available in this arena today.
• Analyzer 2007, Strategy Companion, www.strategycompanion.com
• BusinessObjects XI R2, Business Objects, www.businessobjects.com
• DSP Performance Canvas 2007, DSPanel, www.dspanel.com
• Dundas Chart, Dundas Data Visualization, www.dundas.com
• Radius90, 90 Degree Software, www.90degreesoftware.com
• RSinteract, ICS, www.rsinteract.com
• SQL-RD, ChristianSteven Software, www.christiansteven.com
• Tableau, Tableau Software, www.tableausoftware.com
• XLCubed, XLCubed, www.xlcubed.com
Performance Management Tools
• Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007, Microsoft, www.microsoft.com
• Stylus Studio 2007 XML Enterprise Suite, DataDirect Technologies, www.stylusstudio.com
• Visual Studio 2008, Microsoft, www.microsoft.com
• XMLSpy 2008, Altova, www.altova.com
• Dundas Gauge for .NET, Dundas Data Visualization, www.dundas.com
• FileUp Enterprise Edition, SoftArtisans, www.softartisans.com
• NConstruct, Biro M&T, www.nconstruct.com
• ScaleOut StateServer, ScaleOut Software, www.scaleoutsoftware.com
• Strangeloop AppScaler, Strangeloop Networks, www.strangeloopnetworks.com
• ApexSQL Developer Studio, ApexSQL, www.apexsql.com
• DatabaseSpy 2008, Altova, www.altova.com
• DataDirect Connect for ADO.NET, DataDirect Technologies, www.datadirect.com
• DataKraft Studio, DataKraft, www.datakraft.net
• NConstruct, Biro M&T, www.nconstruct.com
• Rapid SQL, Embarcadero Technologies, www.embarcadero.com
• SQL Farm Combine, SQL Farms, www.sqlfarms.com
• Toad Data Modeler, Quest Software, www.quest.com
Backup and Recovery
• Double-Take for Windows, Double-Take Software, www.doubletake.com
• HyperBac for SQL Server, Xceleon Technologies, www.hyperbac.com
• LiteSpeed, Quest Software, www.quest.com
• Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM), Microsoft, www.microsoft.com
• SQL Backup, Red Gate Software, www.red-gate.com
• SQLsafe, Idera, www.idera.com
• Time Navigator, Atempo, www.atempo.com
• UltraBac, UltraBac Software, www.ultrabac.com
• ESX Server 3.5, VMware, www.vmware.com
• HP PolyServe Database Utility for SQL Server, HP, www.hp.com
• Virtual Iron 4.0, Virtual Iron Software, www.virtualiron.com
• Windows Server 2008 (Windows Server virtualization—WSv), Microsoft, www.microsoft.com