Database in the Cloud: Microsoft Steps Up - InformationWeek
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3/13/2009
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Rajan Chandras
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Database in the Cloud: Microsoft Steps Up

Microsoft recently announced plans to enable direct access to SQL Server databases in the cloud using Tabular Data Stream (TDS), the native SQL server network protocol. This is exciting news for Microsoft developers, and just the kind of thing that Microsoft competitors wouldn't want to happen too soon...

Microsoft recently announced plans to enable direct access to SQL Server databases in the cloud using Tabular Data Stream (TDS), the native SQL Server network protocol. This is exciting news for Microsoft developers, and just the kind of thing that Microsoft competitors wouldn't want to happen too soon...

The Microsoft announcement makes it clear that Microsoft wants to move away from the current ACE data model and toward a TDS-based model. The ACE model uses the concepts of Authority (e.g. user space), Containers (e.g. tables) and Entities (e.g. rows) to allow access to SQL Server databases in the cloud. Interestingly, there's nothing wrong with the ACE model -- in one form or the other, it is the dominant data access model for databases in the cloud. (For more information, check out this article I wrote nearly a year ago on Microsoft's foray into database clouds).The simplicity of the ACE model, however, is also its shortcoming -- what's the point in having a strong relational database behind the scenes, if the only way to access it is using limited entity-container based logic? For example, the only way to update an entity with ACE is to retrieve the entire entity, apply the update and then write it back.

Allowing applications to access SQL Server in the cloud using Tabular Data Stream removes this limitation -- now (or rather, when this becomes fully available), applications will be able to apply the same kind of T-SQL queries to the database as they currently do with in-house applications. At one stroke, databases in the cloud -- or, at least, Microsoft SQL Server databases in the cloud -- become much easier to use.

There is a relatively minor caveat: Not content with introducing TDS in the cloud, Microsoft is also looking to retire the ACE model, but it doesn't look like there's going to be too much of an outcry over that.

Bringing databases in the cloud closer to developers is an essential first step toward encouraging more widespread adoption of cloud computing for corporate applications, and Microsoft has clearly stolen the lead here.Microsoft recently announced plans to enable direct access to SQL Server databases in the cloud using Tabular Data Stream (TDS), the native SQL server network protocol. This is exciting news for Microsoft developers, and just the kind of thing that Microsoft competitors wouldn't want to happen too soon...

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