Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Microsoft Cloud Database. Now its starting to make sense.

I apologize in advance for this fairly technical article, but I wanted to post about this to highlight that Microsoft can produce some really impressive stuff on the Development side of things, even for SaaS.

It was announced fairly recently that Microsoft was planning to release a cloud version of its SQL Server DBMS, called Microsoft Data Services, (Whitepaper found here.).

There are a number of major players in this arena, including Google, Amazon and even Intuit but that isn't the focus of this blog post.

Despite Microsoft's sometimes "perceived" less than committed approach to SaaS and Cloud Computing in general, they always seem to come up with some great additions to their development platforms.

Their latest .NET framework 3.5 Platform introduces a component called Linq or Language Integrated queries. This component which is based upon Functional Language constructs and Lambda expression building blocks essentially provides a SQL language capability embedded in the C# and VB.NET language sets used by many. It provides an abstraction layer hiding database specific language constructs from client apps.


var query = from p in Contacts where p.LastName=="Wing" select p;

Linq can be used against all types of collections, and in fact the building blocks of Linq, Lambda Expressions and extension methods also simplifies many scenarios where you have to iterate through collections. In instances where you would traditionally write multi line code with a FOREACH statement you can replace with a single line.
string[] contacts= {"Troy","Jane","Kim"};
IEnumerable contactList= contacts.Select(p=> p += " Wing").
So back to the reason why I am blogging about this and why its "starting to make sense", these technical features which can make developer's lives a lot easier, actually have a more significant and strategic use. They will form the development platform for ISV's to build apps against Microsofts Cloud Database. Because Linq is Database agnostic, it becomes the perfect tool to use in the SaaS world when building Multi-Tenant Client apps. It removes the need to write complex database specific code anywhere in your app.

It will simplify development, and provide the ability to bring to market a SaaS product requiring a database backend a lot more cheaply and quickly and perhaps open up the SaaS market to smaller organizations who normally couldn't afford to build such an app.

It would have taken several years for such significant features to be designed and implemented by Microsoft, so although I don't know whether this was intentional or not, Microsoft has been seriously thinking about architecture for Cloud Computing for quite a while.