I started this "Week in the Clouds" stating that I think SQL Server will move into the clouds. I think such a move makes sense; especially we work towards a world that manages systems in a smarter way. I don't think we'll ever get away from sysadmins and DBAs, but I do know that the way those jobs work will change drastically. It already has in the 18 years I've been working with SQL Server.
Today I wanted to talk about how SQL Server will look in the future. At the PASS Summit last year, there was a demo shown of a prototype cloud deployment of SQL Server. The idea would be that you would have a "fabric" of SQL Servers, actual physical or virtual installations that did exist somewhere. However for the deployment of applications, and for users, they would not know, or even care, on which SQL Server their application was deployed. They would deploy to a URL, or network location of some sort and the SQL Server platform would manage everything else.
I'm not sure how hard this is, or how much work will get done in SQL 11 and SQL 12. However I do think this is an important area for SQL Server to move into. It addresses some of the scale out issues that exist out there, and for which people are always looking for solutions. Being able to deploy to some virtual group of SQL Servers would greatly help developers and administrators Imagine if you could actually just deploy a SQL Server to a URL or an AD link, and have people access that link. Whether that link were on a cluster, a single server, a VM, or spread across multiple servers through a scale out solution, it would work.
This could work like DNS does today, where the administrators need to know on which server(s) the web application lives, but for most people, they don't care. Imagine if all SQL Services, from Agent to SSIS, to Service Broker, and more, all worked with this "cloud instance" of SQL Server. Wouldn’t it be great if we just had one SQL Agent to manage our jobs? What if jobs could be parceled out to any server? What if SSIS packages could just be run, with network locations used for everything from flat files to folders to database connections?
The cloud doesn’t necessarily have to be an "internet cloud" where your data and application is at some hosting company. I'd love it if cloud services could be easily hosted inside my data center, allowing things to be simpler for users and application developers. Bundle all my servers together and let me manage them as one large "instance" of SQL Server with separate databases. In fact, I could see the "instance" becoming a DBA only term, and the "database" is just available in your cloud.
Having SQL Server support a cloud-type environment is a big step in moving towards scale-out database services, as well as new opportunities for applications. Small companies would use more public clouds, larger ones would host their own clouds, but they'd see SQL Server as just another service they can take advantage of.
I think most of the existing SQL Server services we have today will still be there, but they'll be simpler to configure. We'll put in an address like a URL or URI for connections, and rather than worrying about which server is up, we'll connect to a service. We'll be more "database centric" rather than "server instance centric" for most users and developers. Life will still be complicated for administrators, but that’s good.
Complex means more jobs for DBAs
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