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Microsoft Plans Internet Scaling With MatrixDB For SQL Server After 2008

While Microsoft officially refused comment, two job listings offer tantalizing information about a significant enterprise database project under development.

Microsoft has a significant new enterprise database project under development, a source close to the company said Thursday. Microsoft refused comment and the source wouldn't go into much detail, but two job listings give some tantalizing information about the new project, known as MatrixDB.

According to the source, MatrixDB is an "enterprise scale-out solution." The source wouldn't provide more detail, but the job listings describe MatrixDB as a way to scale data workloads partially by allowing enterprises to add online database resources and by removing dependencies among servers through what's known as a "shared nothing" architecture. The job listing notes that this will be included in the release of SQL Server to follow SQL Server 2008.

"Imagine a database system that could automatically adapt to the scaling needs of our most demanding customers and workloads and would run on commodity hardware," the job listing states. "You could add additional hardware resources online, and it would automatically use them to run your workload faster. Components could fail, and it would seamlessly adapt without any downtime or any admin intervention. And no query or workload would be too big for it, because to get more horsepower, all you would need to do would be to add more hardware components."

By allowing businesses to scale their data centers with add-on online resources, SQL Server would become a significant part of Microsoft's "software plus services" strategy in which some products have both cloud-based and client-based features, while others allow customers to choose between client and Web versions. One of the job listings also mentions CloudDB, a database architecture that will reportedly be a significant piece of Microsoft's services strategy.

Microsoft believes MatrixDB could have a significant impact on the enterprise database market, if the job listings are any indication. "MatrixDB is the next big bet for SQL Server," one of the job listings says, adding that it "will change the industry perception of enterprise database servers" and "shake up the industry."

The source said the project is to be headed up by Bob Gerber, a former chief scientist at Informix who helped develop one of the first parallel databases, Gamma, in the 1980s. According to the job listing, the project is just now "at the beginning of the product cycle" and largely in concept stages at this time.

SQL Server 2008 is slated to be released in the third quarter, and there's no set timetable for the following release, but Microsoft has committed to a two- to three-year release cycle for SQL Server, placing MatrixDB's release somewhere around 2010 or 2011.

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