A select group of database administrators, ISVs and Microsoft partners next week will be the first to get a good look at Microsoft's next-generation SQL Server database.
The preview event, in Bellevue, Wash., promises invitees an up-close and personal tour of the guts of the software that is code-named Yukon. Though members of the Professional Association of SQL Server user group got a sneak peek at Yukon during their annual meeting in December, this is the first time that customers, ISVs and partners will really get a chance to dig into the technology, said one IT executive who plans to attend.
The event's contents are so under wraps, he said, "attendees are required to sign NDAs on their NDAs."
The preview will include about 40 technical sessions on Yukon programmability, manageability, scalability and business intelligence, according to a mailing touting the event. The preview will be hosted by SQL Server bigwigs Gordon Mangione, vice president of SQL Server, and Jim Gray of Microsoft Research.
DBAs, administrators and others will receive training on the software and will also be eligible to participate in the first Yukon beta when it becomes available.
The official beta delivery date is sometime in June, and production is expected in early 2004, but it's not inconceivable that the production time frame could slip into midyear -- Microsoft releases are wont to do such slipping, after all. Most customers will probably not quibble because they would rather have a good product, said Kurt Windisch, director of program development at Levi, Ray & Shoup Inc., a Springfield, Ill., software company.
Windisch said he has several reasons to be excited about Yukon. First, it's been three years since the last real upgrade of SQL Server. Additionally, many other products in Microsoft's arsenal will be merged into and reliant on the Yukon platform.
The next generation of Exchange, code-named Kodiak, for example, will use the Yukon data store.
Customers are also excited about the programmability of Yukon -- namely, its integration with the .NET common language runtime, Windisch said.
Kevin Strange, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc., said it's unlikely that customers will rush to Yukon quickly, just as customers haven't rushed to adopt the newest databases from IBM Corp. and Oracle Corp.
Windisch agrees. "No one is banking their business on this next version, saying 'these are features I have to have,'" he said. "But it's more like, 'wow, look at these enhancements,' and 'how can I make that work?'"
Other than offering high-level pronouncements, Microsoft has said little about Yukon's contents. Expected improvements include better scalability and partition tables, which are already included in database products made by Microsoft's competitors.
Other features are the ability to do online analytical processing and data mining on real-time streams of data, as well as support for XML, according to Microsoft executives.
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