This past week saw Microsoft mention that it was working hard to get as many features of SQL Server into it's Azure cloud service as it could before they release the product. We don't know when Azure will be released (A CTP was released late last year), but apparently SQL Server will be a part of it.
That's good since what I saw of SQL Server Data Services last year left a lot to be desired. When I saw a demo from the SSDS team at TechEd, I was incredibly under-whelmed with that capabilities. At that time I would have barely even called it a database.
However you can already get SQL Server in the cloud. Amazon offers SQL Server in it's EC2 cloud service, and you can buy hours of access to SQL Server for $0.125/ hour. I'm not sure what that would mean for a web site like SQL Server, but it's an interesting idea.
Moving to the cloud if scary, and I am planning on writing about it in a few more editorials over the next few weeks. I think we'll get there, though not as fast as predicted by MVP Paul Neilsen. I do think it's coming, and I think Denis Gobo brings up a good list of things that need to happen for this to really work. I think there's even more needed than Denis mentions, but I do think it will happen.
Microsoft didn't stop there, also releasing their Fast Track Data Warehouse platform with reference architectures and business partners to help you develop a data warehouse very quickly. I think this is a good step to get people moving, but honestly the hardware and configuration of the platform is the easy part. Building a good data warehouse requires good design and development resources so that applications can efficiently present information to people.
Even with all Microsoft's work here, and they've done a lot, it's still hard to build a well designed data warehouse and BI system. I think they really need to do more here with helping not only make the applications easier to build, but also find ways to convince management to change their cultures to embrace a longer term view of the data warehouse development and implementation cycle.
This makes me rethink my BI stance slightly, but not a lot. Especially in this poor economic climate, I still feel that most companies won't want to make the investment in time or resources that they really need to build a great BI system.
Steve's Pick of the Week
Store 10TB on a quarter - Perhaps not literally a quarter, but researchers have found a way to achieve 10TB of storage in a space the size of a quarter. At least that's the theoretical limit for this breakthrough by researchers at Berkeley. It's not commercially viable, but considering the way storage has grown over the last ten years, I wouldn't be surprised to have TB-sized SD cards in cameras and cell phones in the next decade.
The Voice of the DBA Podcasts
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