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SQL Data Services to get an overhaul

Whether you call it a "mid-course correction" or a reset, Microsoft is rethinking its "SQL Server Services in the cloud" strategy.

Whether you call it a "mid-course correction" or a reset, Microsoft is rethinking its "SQL Server Services in the cloud" strategy.

SQL Data Services, formerly known as SQL Server Data Services, is part of Microsoft's Azure Services platform. (It sits on top of the Azure operating system, a k a "Red Dog.") When Microsoft first discussed the concept for SQL Server Data Services, it sounded a lot like Amazon's SimpleDB. Some criticized it for providing a limited subset of database features.

But this week, at the MSDN Developers Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft committed to providing a full hosted version of its database, as first reporting by my podcasting-partner-in-crime Gavin Clarke of the Register UK.

Microsoft officials have said Azure would ship before the end of this year, without specifying whether they meant all of the platform would move from test release to final or only certain pieces. (With this reset, it sounds like only some of the SQL Data Services pieces will be moving out of beta this year.)

This week, during an update with Wall Street analysts, CEO Steve Ballmer reiterated that Azure would be out this year, ready in time for Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference, which is in mid-November this year.

Microsoft officials have discussed the Microsoft-hosted SQL Server/business-intelligence bundle idea for a couple of years but have been careful -- until now, at least -- to differentiate SQL Data Services from a full version of SQL Services hosted in the cloud. (Maybe Amazon's decision to offer hosted SQL Server had some influence here...)

Ballmer, in his remarks this week, didn't make that distinction. He told Wall Streeters on February 24:

"The next version of SQL Server will do some phenomenal things in business intelligence, and data warehousing.  We'll have a new high end version that we call Data Center some time over the next year or so. We have an Azure version for the cloud announced that will reach fruition with the PDC this year."

In related news, there's a new Azure-related codename on the radar screen. On his OakLeaf Systems blog, Roger Jennings cites "Orleans" as referring to encompassing the Azure fabric controller. The fabric controller is one of the core components of the Red Dog operating system.