Microsoft throws database into the cloud

Microsoft has added SQL Server Data Services to its freshly introduced line-up of online services for corporate users. It's now registering users for the beta.

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Microsoft has added SQL Server Data Services to its freshly introduced line-up of online services for corporate users. It's now registering users for the beta.

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, disclosed the new service during his keynote address at the company's annual MIX conference. "This highly scalable database service will bring the benefits of SQL Server for developers into the cloud," he said.

Ozzie's announcement follows the kick-off of a beta program to expand online infrastructure services around Exchange 2007 and SharePoint 2007 to corporate users of any size, including SMEs.

Microsoft also said it will launch a beta of Office Communications Server (OCS) available in the second half of 2008, called Office Communications Online, to round out its suite of online services, which will also include web-based conferencing via Live Meeting.

SSDS will be targeted at SMEs to help reduce costs, at corporate users to support applications and data-sharing and at developers and service providers.

Microsoft said some of the uses would revolve around storage of archival or reference data, storage of large amounts of structured or semi-structured data using a flexible schema, and run applications on the internet that can tolerate some latency.

Support for business needs such as HR services, healthcare records management and data archiving would also be included. So too would support for internet-facing applications like social networking and picture sharing.

Microsoft said the database server will be exposed via Simple Object Access Protocol and REST APIs, which will allow the creation of authorities, containers and the creation, update and deletion of single entities.

Users will be able to upload and query data and access large unstructured data objects using a URL. They will pay for each "account" they open and each will be accessed using a unique Windows LiveID. Microsoft did not announce account prices.

SSDS will support a text-based query language that follows the LINQ pattern for C#.

Microsoft will offer security at the account, authority and container levels. Each authority is secured by a single "secret key" granting read/write access. In addition, each container within an authority is secured by its own single "secret key" granting read/write access. User also can make the contents of containers read-accessible to a general audience.

The primary wire format for SSDS is XML, but Microsoft said multiple protocols including AtomPub would be supported.