People seem to have got overly excited about what we are going to announce at Mix. Nicholas Carr posts Rumor: Microsoft about to unveil web-apps strategy and Robert on “Wait until you see what Ray Ozzie is doing”.
The fact is that we have been running a number of services in the cloud for a while such as Biztalk Services which today offers an Identity and Relay service. This is in beta form, but shows our direction. However today at Mix we announced another service offering called SQLServer Data Services ( SSDS ).
SSDS you can think of as a structured data store in the cloud(building block service), which is accessed using Internet protocols using a basic data manipulation language. SSDS is for developers and businesses that need scalable, easily programmable, and cost-effective data storage with robust database query capabilities. Pretty cool.
Some of the capabilities are a Flexible Entity Model, where no schema required and you can update name/value pairs (which is the smallest unit of storage). You can also store unique ID's within the parent container, for tracking user type information and their is an update timestamp on each operation. Finally the properties are pretty flexible. You can change instance type information on the fly or add additional properties. We support simple types such as decimal, string, bool, etc and all the properties are indexed.
There is also the concept of a Container. This defines a unit of consistency and is the boundary for a single search or operation and has a unique name within parent container (and a size limit).
Above that you have something called an Authority. This is a collection of containers(from above), analogous to a namespace ( with a DNS) and is the unit of billing and potential geo-location.
From an data update and access point of view, there are many choices. You could use the Microsoft Sync Framework for offline data, ADO.Net Data Services Framework or just plain old REST. Its really flexible and this provides a huge advantage.
You can find out a whole lot more at the following site or download the following SSDS document on the subject.