Tech Ed Barcelona has been a low-key affair in some ways, with little in the way of exciting news; yet I was impressed with several pieces of technology which I had not looked at closely before.
I found it curious that the keynote made so little of these. In particular, I’m thinking about Silverlight 1.1, SQL Server 2008, and Project Astoria (also known as ADO.NET Data Services).
SQL Sever 2008 is a big release, though it is easy to get confused over what is part of SQL Server, and what is part of ADO.NET. I will be posting more on this subject, following my interview today with Michael Rys, Principal Program Manager of SQL Server Engine, Relational and XML (don’t try to say that quickly). One of the points of interest for those who follow Microsoft technology is the new FILESTREAM data type – in fact it is not strictly a data type, but another way to store blobs. This is a way to store unstructured data under SQL Server control, giving you the benefits of transactions, SQL Server security, backup, etc, but with the performance of the file system. In fact, each blob is stored as an individual file though you are not expected to find it using Windows Explorer. Using the SQL Server API you can get a WIn32 file handle to the blob, and there are no size limits other than those which the file system imposes. Result: faster access to the data.
Another piece of the puzzle is that full-text indexing is now fully integrated into the SQL Server engine. Right, so now we have indexed, queryable, high performance access to data in a transactional file system. Remind you of WinFS?
This will also give Sharepoint a significant performance boost in some future release, and Sharepoint is of strategic importance for Microsoft.
I’m also interested in Project Astoria, an easy to use a REST API into your database. This makes huge sense in the context of AJAX and Silverlight, and if you want to do mashups with other web services. I got the impression that Microsoft is being deliberately low key about this, pending an announcement at some future date. My guess is that it will be released at the same time as SQL Server 2008 – June next year? – but it is only a guess.
I fear much of this passed by many of the Tech Ed delegates. Talking to them at the party last night, I found that several were in the early stages of moving from .NET 1.1 to .NET 2.0. There is a substantial time lag between release and real-world adoption.
Plane about to leave so I’ll wrap up here. I do have more to post from Tech Ed, so check back soon.