RealTime IT News

Microsoft to Overhaul Admin Features for Yukon

Microsoft continued to peel away the blinds covering its pending "Yukon" SQL Server version of its database software Wednesday with the introduction of new enhancements to the company's database administration technology.

Announced at the annual 2003 Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Community Summit in Seattle, the improved SQL Server extract, transform and load (ETL) tools are designed to cut down on the manual knob-tuning for database administrators (DBAs), which gives the software features something in common with Oracle's pending 10G database technology.

Oracle, never before known for its ease of manageability, is promising vast improvements in that area by year's end in its forthcoming database software, in which the software will automate many of the tuning features in the database software associated with fluctuations in computing requirements. That was the focus of the company's financial analyst's day last week in New York City.

While IBM and Microsoft are not as roundly criticized for the manageability of their database products, some analysts have been impressed by Oracle's improvements to the ease-of-use characteristics of its software, and noted that the improvements could even push IBM and Microsoft to come up with stronger management features.

To date, IBM and Microsoft have worked on their own timetable for database technology improvements, but analysts believe the three major companies will continue to drive each other to push the envelope of database technology.

Meanwhile, Gordon Mangione, corporate vice president for SQL Server at Microsoft, picked up where he left off at the Redmond, Wash. software giant's Professional Developer's Conference two weeks ago, detailing advancements to Microsoft's Data Transformation Services (DTS) for this SQL Server PASS event in Seattle.

Mangione promised the world would see a complete redesign of the original DTS architecture, which will provide DBAs with more powerful ETL features out of the box, when the product is unveiled next year.

ETL moves data from one database to another, first reading it (extracting) then making it ready for the next database (transforming) and finally placing it into its new home (loading), all of which can be a tough task if the amount of data to be moved is copious.

Mangione said the new DTS architecture simplifies the ETL process by adding graphical debugging, and built-in transformations such as fuzzy lookup, to let developers do their work in more efficient fashion. Mangione predicts this will boost performance and scale, but will also provide transaction support, "restartability, data error handling and data cleansing."

Integrating new data can also prove costly, making out-of-the-box ETL attractive to cost-conscious CIOs. The goal is to appeal to large scales of business.

DTS is integrated with Microsoft's Analysis Services, Reporting Services and Web Services. The new DTS API for developers means that DTS can be extended with custom data sources, transformations, workflow tasks and other objects.

In a move to improve the company's mature SQL Server 2000 database version, Mangione also unveiled the Best Practices Analyzer (BPA), a tool designed to help DBAs develop SQL Server applications that are of higher quality and easier to manage.

The configuration recommendations range from availability and backup/recover to management and performance. The BPA can scan for configurations that use deprecated features.

In related database news, open-source database vendor MySQL AB Wednesday announced several new customers, inking commercial licensing agreements with Active Voice, Sendmail, RLX Technologies, NEC America, Sabre Holdings and others, all of whom are are integrating the MySQL database with their product offerings and enterprise applications.

With MySQL's dual-licensing business model users can use the MySQL database for no cost under the free software/open source General Public License (GPL) or under a commercial license with warranties and indemnification from MySQL AB. With a commercial license, ISVs can integrate MySQL into their applications without opening their product's source code.