Microsoft recently released SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition. Although SQL Server CE is an important product, I don't know when companies will start clamoring for CE-savvy SQL Server professionals. You might not have to worry about wireless for another 5 years, or this winter you could suddenly find yourself in charge of a lovely holiday-season project. Either way, SQL Server CE is a great a niche skill to have now. And the age of ubiquitous SQL Server CE deployments might be closer than you realize. Here's why.
Several months ago, I received a Pocket PC as a gift. It's sleek, silvery, and very cool, and it impressed all my friends. For the first few weeks, I used my Pocket PC regularly, then the bother of syncing up the device with my desktop started to get on my nerves. The process wasn't hard, but I'm the kind of guy who never changes TV channels if the remote isn't within reaching distance of the couch. In my world, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) don't have enough bang for the buck to make them worth my while. I suspect many of you feel the same way.
But real wireless connectivity will change our minds. Every time I used my Pocket PC, I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if I could be online right now?" I'm not talking about kludgy connectivity through a cell phone at a pitiful modem-uplink speed. I'm talking about real, instant-on, reasonable-bandwidth Internet connectivity that doesn't drain my wallet. Today, real wireless with a Pocket PC is difficult to achieve and simply too expensive to be practical for most people. But that scenario is starting to change. Wireless ISP providers are providing better coverage and dropping their prices. Just as important, Microsoft's newest embedded OS, code-named Talisker (see the second URL below), will include native support for Bluetooth and other important wireless-connectivity options. Microsoft will build in real wireless from the ground up rather than adding it as an afterthought. That foresight will make all the difference because mobile, PDA-style devices will truly become ubiquitous and will generate entirely new classes of personal and business handheld applications that will all need a data store. Can you say "SQL Server CE"?
Today, SQL Server CE opportunities are few and far between, but they're getting closer to home. And, it's never too early to begin learning a next-generation technology that's bound to change the way we live. Take a minute to check out the new SQL Server CE 1.1 release. If you don't have time (or a Pocket PC) to play with SQL Server CE, at least download the product and browse the documents so that you'll be familiar with the architectural differences between SQL Server CE and its big brother. You'll find a download link and additional SQL Server CE resources on Microsoft's Web site.