Microsoft SQL Server: Future Plans for Supporting Spatial Data

By Directions Staff

Microsoft's SQL Server database is being used to support many geospatial information products.Directions Magazine asked Mitch Gatchalian, product manager, SQL Server, several questions about the development of spatial functionality within this product.His answers appear below:

Directions Magazine (DM): Can you give a brief overview of SQL Server in the context of managing spatial data?
Mitch Gatchalian (MG): With SQL Server customers have the ability to implement spatial solutions with leading spatial applications such as ESRI, MapInfo, etc. In our next version of SQL Server, code named "Yukon", we will provide new features such as User Defined Datatypes (UDTs) that will add additional support for customers, developers and spatial application vendors to build spatial solutions.Customer examples of spatial application solutions implemented on SQL Server include US Department of Agriculture and the North Carolina Flood Control project (see below).

DM: Oracle has obviously garnered mindshare for spatial data management. What are the strengths of the SQL Server product suite?
MG: SQL Server provides a robust and versatile platform that is easy to use (both for developers and DBAs), at a low acquisition and implementation price point, and offers a rich set of tools to help customers efficiently implement and manage the solution.

DM: Currently, SQL Server handles spatial data as BLOBS? What plans, if any, do you have to use specific database structures to manage spatial data?
MG: User Defined Datatypes will be one of the new features in Yukon that will improve BLOB support for customers.We are also including support for the .NET Framework as an integral part of SQL Server to provide developers with a better framework to tackle complex programming challenges. With these enhancements, Customers and ISVs can boost their innovation on top of SQL Server in bringing out better, more cost-efficient spatial solutions to market.

DM: Microsoft has seemed to position SQL Server for smaller implementations of GIS; Oracle for enterprise implementations.Will your marketing strategy expand to encompass the enterprise systems in land management, ERP, or CRM?
MG: SQL Server covers a wide range of spatial implementations that are successfully put into operation by our partners like ESRI, MapInfo, Autodesk, and Intergraph. SQL Server will scale to both ends of the customer spectrum, whether you are implementing an extremely large spatial solution or if you are simply doing a small geo project.Whether the solution is big or small, our customers will consistently experience the value of SQL Server in lower total cost of ownership, ease of management, and time to implement.

DM: How will SQL Server be integrated with MapPoint Web Services?
MG: There are no plans to integrate the MapPoint Web Service with SQL Server at this time.

DM: Is the management of spatial information recognized as being a major potential market for Microsoft?
MG: Microsoft continues to work with our customers and spatial ISV partners to better understand how to enhance the value of the SQL Server platform as a part of an integrated spatial solution. Our customers can expect better integrated solutions from Microsoft and the leading spatial ISVs to help solve their business and geo-spatial application challenges.

DM: How will Microsoft address the mobile wireless market to manage location information and data? Explain where Mobile Location Server fits into this strategy?
MG: The Microsoft Location Server, a component of next version of the MapPoint Web Service and will offer the ability to pull real-time location into mobile applications.

DM: What can we expect from Microsoft in terms of advancing the support of the Open GIS Consortium's initiatives in Simple Features Specifications, OpenLS, Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative (CIPI), and Web Services?
MG: Microsoft plays an active role in the key spatial consortiums trying to understand more about what our customers and partners need from our platform. As much as we can, Microsoft seeks to contribute and possibly influence specific initiatives and technology areas within these consortiums in the interest of our customers and partners.

SQL Server/Spatial Case Studies

FEMA, Space Shuttle Recovery
North Carolina Floodplain Project (see image below - click for larger image)
City of Portland, OR

See also:

MapMarker and SpatialWare® on SQL Server

MapInfo Case Studies:

Cumberland County


Published Saturday, October 18th, 2003

Written by Directions Staff

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