Countdown To Katmai

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Details about Katmai, the next rev of SQL Server, have been as scarce as hen's teeth. But, database fans should start hearing more soon, a Microsoft exec said.

Whether "soon" means Win HEC (May 15-17 in LA), Tech Ed 2007 (June 4-8 in Orlando) the partner conference (July 10-12 in Denver) and/or PDC (October 2-5 back in LA) remains up for debate. Smart money is that there'll be plenty of snippets out by the time PDC rolls around.

Microsoft says every two to three years s the optimal upgrade cycle for databases. It's been about two and half years since SQL Server 2005 launched in November 05. So ... tick tock.

SQL Server 2005 came after a too-lengthy five-year gap after SQL Server 2000. Microsoft has told partners it will do all it can to make sure that doesn't happen again. "it killed them," said one database specialist.

"We're committed to a 24 to 36 month release cycle. Customers don't deploy databases the same way as desktop OSes, but you need a regular cycle. Two or three years feels about right," said Francois Ajenstat told CRN. He's the director of project management for SQL Server.

One of the big check-list features for Katmai—and beyond—is the ability to handle non relational data.—images, sounds, what have you. That would mean MP3 and other audio files, satellite imaging data. Former database chief Paul Flessner talked a little bit about this last year.

The history: Until the current release, SQL Server was relational. SQL Server 2005 added support for XML data types, thus making it able to handle "semi relational" content.

"The goal is to make management [of those new data types] as simple as it is for relational and XML data, Ajenstat said.

Will Katmai do all that heavy lifting right away? "I don't want to commit to Katmai," but that management of diverse data types is in Microsoft's multi-release vision, he said.

Let's be clear. None of the database giants is standing still. Oracle is on tap to release Oracle 11g database this summer. And the company recently revamped the licensing model on the current Oracle 10g Standard Edition and Standard Edition One databases to make them price-competitive with SQL Server. And IBM has claimed great strides with its year old "Viper" release of DB2.

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