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.

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