You might have heard from Microsoft a fair bit about our efforts to make our products work better together.  I strongly believe in this theme because it offers a key value proposition and differentiator that we can provide for our customers.  Delivering software that works better together enables us to make the whole greater than the sum of the individual parts.

I can give you a lot of examples of how we continue to make our products work together better in a way that benefits our customers hugely.  One great example of this is the work currently underway at Microsoft with Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005.  The release of Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 next year will absolutely be the next big milestone in our .NET roadmap.

With SQL Server 2005, database programmers can now take advantage of the rich functionality of the .NET Framework and the Common Language Runtime (CLR).  Using CLR integration as a core part of SQL Server 2005, database developers can now realize the full benefit of .NET.  SQL Server 2005 developers can create their stored procedures, functions, triggers and user defined types using languages that target the .NET framework, such as VB.NET and C#.  Developers who are already programming to the .NET framework are seeing huge gains in terms of performance, reliability and security.  With this integration work, we now offer all the benefits of the .NET framework and managed code to SQL Server database developers.

In a nutshell, we have tried to solve the following problems:

1.       Limited Language choice and flexibility on the data tier for SQL Server  

Currently, SQL Server developers can only use T-SQL as their primary programming language.  T-SQL lacks some of the modern programming features that developers are clamoring for.  Extended stored procedures for SQL Server can be written in C++, but few developers do that because of the difficult development experience.  With Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005, we will provide SQL developers several modern programming languages to choose from, and run their code within a safe and secure environment.

2.       Limited framework available to data tier developers on SQL Server

T-SQL has a limited set of runtime functions.  Other class libraries can be called through extended stored procedures, but that isn’t done very often either because developers find that hard to do.  With the .NET framework’s common language runtime hosted in SQL Server 2005, SQL Server developers will be able to safely access a wide range of rich .NET libraries.

In some sense, IBM’s DB2 has already taken the initial step in terms of CLR integration.  They did this with the version of the CLR that shipped with Visual Studio .NET.  This is yet another indication on the huge developer momentum behind .NET.  However, they only took the first step of out-of-process integration.  With SQL Server 2005, we are the 1st to provide deep integration that lets the SQL Server developers take full advantage of .NET.  Now you can take the full power of Visual Studio.NET’s authoring, project management and debugging capabilities and apply it to databases as well.

With this level of deep integration, we are also making sure that we do the right things for DBAs.  We will be providing a variety of tools, tips and techniques to enable DBAs to be successful with the new programming environment.

There are a whole set of additional integration points between SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 that I will write about in subsequent blogs.