SQL Server 2000 Gears Up for E-Commerce

FRAMINGHAM (04/27/2000) - Hoping to make its flagship database a better fit for Web applications, Microsoft Corp. this week released a second beta of SQL Server 2000. The beta features a data mining engine, native support for the content-tagging language XML and integration with Microsoft's BizTalk Server.

If they live up to their promise, the features could ease e-commerce application development and provide a foundation for software developers who want to tailor their products to SQL Server 2000.

Keith Wales, chief technology officer at Pivotal Corp. in North Vancouver, British Columbia, said that although his company hasn't tried to run a production system on the beta, the release is faster in SQL query benchmarks and supports greater scalability in a test environment for Pivotal's electronic-business relationship-management software.

Brian Knight, a Jacksonville, Florida-based database consultant and the operator of Swynk.com, a Web site for information about Microsoft's BackOffice technologies, said the relational engine has been changed significantly and now provides features that used to be available only from third-party vendors for tens of thousands of dollars.

SQL Server 2000's new data-mining engine is an enhanced version of OLAP Services, a component in previous releases of SQL Server. Renamed Analysis Services, the component now includes data transformation tools that users and application developers can use to add business intelligence and data management features to applications running on SQL Server 2000.

SQL Server 2000 product manager Barry Goffe said Microsoft has included a set of data mining algorithms in the database engine. One such algorithm, called a decision tree, can be used to incorporate a shopping cart feature into e-commerce applications. Also included is a dimension algorithm, which allows data to be analyzed by defined characteristics such as age group, gender or income. These algorithms can be used by application developers as a foundation for features they build themselves, Goffe said.

The SQL Server 2000 beta can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site. Goffe said the final version will be available this summer, but pricing hasn't been established.

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