Safe Software’s Take on SQL Server 2008

By Joe Francica and Adena Schutzberg

1. Remind us, has Safe supported other implementations of spatial on SQL Server? If so, how does this compare?
Two other FME implementations that come to mind are Intergraph’s Geomedia SQL Server Warehouse and ESRI’s ArcSDE on SQL Server. Intergraph has a SQL Server Warehouse option that GeoMedia uses that we've supported for several years now. FME has also supported ArcSDE on SQL Server for a long long time as well.

The newly announced integration is different as it's a native, direct implementation of spatial. In the other two cases above, FME goes through a vendor-specific layer that would ultimately use its own method of storing and indexing the geometry. Based on customer feedback, all of our FME implementations on SQL Server are performing well and meeting market expectations.

2. We consider Safe as a sort of canary in the coal mine as you are typically the first to support any new format. Have customers been pushing for this support even though this is the first implementation of spatial in the CTPs?
We've had a few early adopters trying out our SQL Server Spatial support for many weeks now. Based on their initial positive excitement, we are confident that "if we build it, they will come".
As the leading spatial ETL vendor, we are committed to ensuring FME supports the latest and greatest formats. In the past year, we have demonstrated this with added support for formats like GeoRSS, and GeoJSON. We see data convergence happening at an increasing rate as users are demanding to be able to work with all types of data. Data convergence is what our business at Safe Software is all about. Adding support for SQL Server fits right into our vision and so adding support for it was a very easy decision.

3. What do you think will be most appealing about Microsoft's implementation for the traditional GIS user base? The "neogeogrpahy" user base?
Among traditional vendors, we believe that you will see a relatively quick adoption of this new data type and that this will potentially foster a level of interoperability between applications using the SQL Server datasource as a common backend, in much the same way as some applications can make use of each other's Oracle Spatial implementations. Neogeographers are starting to be presented with a lot of choices - free, open source, or commercial; this just gives them one more. It would seem reasonable that there is likely to be a nice integration between Virtual Earth and SQL Server Spatial (I don't know this firsthand however), so this aspect may be of particular interest to those in the neo-community.

4. Clearly you think it worthwhile to offer support this early in Microsoft's development cycle. How likely is it you'll need to recode in the coming months before FCS (first customer ship of SQL Server 2008)?
Actually, the primary benefit of getting in early is to understand the issues and to provide feedback which will ensure that the resulting FME solution is even more usable and convenient for our customers. This is why we typically try to get on the betas of new databases or releases early for all the applications and systems we support. By understanding and uncovering any issues early, we can work together with the vendor in question to get solutions in place before release. This is a key part to our high quality releases. Now, there is a cost to this at times, but having watched things evolve in this particular case, we'd be very surprised to see us doing any recoding of substance.

5. What other functionality of SQL Server might you support as the new release is finalized?
We'll continue to enhance our integration with SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) – which is already shipping in FME 2007. We will also potentially look at improving our support for creating spatial indexes automatically and raising the bar further.

Published Saturday, November 17th, 2007

Written by Joe Francica and Adena Schutzberg

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