Microsoft readying Yukon release, 64-bit plans

Microsoft Corp. is marching on with its mission of displacing Unix databases with its own SQL Server platform, and is readying both a 64-bit database and a next-generation database, dubbed Yukon, that focuses on data warehousing and minimizing down time.

Yukon is due for beta release in early 2003 while a 64-bit version of SQL Server, called SQL Server 2000 64-bit, is expected to be generally available early in 2003.

The company will continue its quest to displace Oracle and other Unix databases.

“We’re always looking to do that, but really, with 64-bit, it’s the last nail in the coffin for needing to choose a Unix system,” said Sheryl Tullis, product manager for SQL Server, in an interview at the Microsoft DevCon conference here this week.

The Yukon database, to run on both 64-bit and 32-bit hardware, will focus on several themes: programmability, deep XML support, the company’s Common Language Runtime environment for functioning with multiple programming languages, business intelligence, scalability, and self-tuning functionality, Tullis said. A general release will follow the beta version by approximately several months to a year.

“There’s going to be more self-tuning, self-managing aspects,” she said. “We’re going to widen the gap there.”

To this end, the company will improve on self-management functionality that today enables the database to know when peak loads are happening, she said.

Microsoft also will focus on “serviceability,” to minimize unplanned down time for chores such as applying service packs, Tullis said. Maintenance will be performed while the database is still online, she said.

Another key feature planned is support for XQuery, to enable use of single queries for accessing XML and relational data.

In business intelligence, Microsoft is focusing on new data warehousing capabilities and algorithms to boost data mining, Tullis said. More algorithms will be added to enable users to deploy the database to draw conclusions about business results, she said.

The company’s end-to-end data warehousing focus for the product means users will be able to pull data from multiple sources and deploy new schemas for warehousing.

Also planned for inclusion in Yukon is SQL Server Notification Services, a platform for developing and deploying database applications that enable users to subscribe to informational updates. This feature currently is available as a separate download for SQL Server users.

Yukon will have both 64- and 32-bit capabilities.

Prior to Yukon, SQL Server 64-bit will dramatically increase the amount of addressable memory in the database, Tullis acknowledged. This database, Tullis said, will appeal to “folks who are doing Web commerce and solutions that really need to handle spikes in traffic or concurrent users or transactions.”

“This really targets the high end of customers, so people who need this capability are going to be pretty excited,” said Tullis.

An attendee at DevCon, however, said his customers currently had no need for 64-bit address space.

“We just don’t have that quantity of data,” said Greg Sohl, e-services product manager at Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Freedom Group Inc., a developer of financial and accounting applications and regulatory applications for the insurance industry.

Sohl conceded, however, that there may be a need for 64-bit functionality as the company works with larger clients in the future.

A second beta of SQL Server 2000 64-bit is expected within a month, offering support for the Intel Itanium 2 microprocessor.

Microsoft by October plans to release a new version of its mobile database, SQL Server CE 2.0, for Win CE devices. The new version will installation wizards and will not require that users recreate indexes. Performance also has been improved. The database will work with the Microsoft .Net Compact Framework for developing applications for devices.