One of the more interesting news pieces I picked up this week was that the first beta release of SQL Server Data Services (SSDS) is due out this month. SSDS is a data storage and query processing web service, using SOAP protocol, which runs on SQL Server and provides a small subset of what is in the full SQL Server data platform.
SQL Server isn’t used much for web-based applications, simply because the cheapest ISPs use Linux and Apache for their platform. There are ISPs that provide a .NET platform and SQL Server but it is at a cost. SSDS seems to be Microsoft’s latest attempt to break into the market for database-driven websites. The good news is that it uses SOAP protocol. The bad news is that database access uses LINQ, not SQL, and the database is not relational but OO.
The main purpose of SSDS is to allow any website to use SQL Server remotely, so that any ISP can be used, whatever the platform. The service can be installed on any existing SQL Server 2005 installation, but will also be provided as a service on large storage clusters in various Microsoft data centres located across North America. This will allow you to develop and test applications with a local SQL server and then deploy them on the internet, using Microsoft’s service-based SSDS, without having to worry about exposing your own servers to the internet.
The service-based SSDS stores multiple copies of the data for high availability and reliability and the service will have a back-up of the data stored in each data cluster.
Overall, SSDS looks like an interesting development. I guess it will be more of a culture-shock for a SQL Server database developer than using SQLite. At least with the latter, the website can use a properly normalised relational database, with a rich set of data types that understand SQL. SSDS has a lot to prove, and is clearly designed to appeal mostly to procedural C# developers. The only problem is that C# and VB code is locked into .NET, so won’t be able to make use of the cross-platform of SOAP-based web services anyway.
If you're intrigued, Microsoft is looking for Beta Testers. http://www.microsoft.com/sql/dataservices/default.mspx. I've be very interested to hear what you think about the potential of SSDS.
Many thanks to everybody who contributed to my last editorial, "How to layout SQL Code". It was a really tough choice, but the voucher goes to Nathan Allen.