Four months after releasing SQL Server 7.0, Microsoft is designing its next-generation database, code-named Shiloh, with several new features including XML, a standard that simplifies the exchange of data over the Web and corporate networks, said Dave Wascha, Microsoft's XML product manager.
"We're now looking at how to fit XML in SQL Server, and how it will be used. But obviously it is on the radar screen for the next release," Wascha said.
"XML in SQL Server will make it easier for people to work with our data store, in addition to [data access interfaces] like OLE DB, ODBC, etc."
Microsoft has jumped onto the XML bandwagon with both feet. The company has already integrated XML into Microsoft Office 2000, which can save Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other files in XML format as well as in native file formats. Internet Explorer 5, launched last week, also makes extensive use of XML.
"XML is certainly affecting all of the product teams," Wascha said. "We're still looking at the benefits that it brings them."
Wascha said Microsoft has even transferred Adam Bosworth, the company's chief XML expert, into the SQL Server group. But Wascha would not confirm whether Bosworth would be working on XML support for SQL Server, or some other technological area of the database.
"He will certainly bring his knowledge to the project," he said. "But this shouldn't be seen as, 'we are taking our XML guy and throwing him into the SQL Server group.' [We're] Just moving our smart guys around."
Barry Goffe, Microsoft's SQL Server product manager, would not confirm Microsoft's future XML plans for Shiloh, but added that SQL Server 7.0 already has "some level of XML support."
One new feature in Shiloh is "materialized views," which allows users to easily program the database to deliver pre-calculated reports. For example, the database can automatically update a complex query, so when users repeatedly ask for the same report, the database can churn it out to users right away.
Goffe declined to give other details on Shiloh, but said: "The SQL Server 7.0 release was focused on scalability, reliability, ease of use, and data warehousing and Shiloh builds on those themes."
Kevin Dick, a Palo Alto, California, consultant, said XML support in SQL Server will make it easier for businesses to exchange data. "A business or department could have an almost complete XML out-of-the-box solution from Microsoft to do business-to-business commerce," he said.
Dick believes Microsoft can provide XML support in SQL Server in two ways: The database could help generate XML documents for users to view the data through a Web browser or other user interface. Or it could help users construct concise queries by giving them a description of the type of data inside the database.
Microsoft has not set a release date for Shiloh, according to Goffe.