SQL Server 2008 offers new strength

Microsoft's soon-to-be-released SQL Server 2008 offers new support for spatial data types that some analysts say should deliver a real boost to geospatial applications and data sharing at all levels of government.

Expected to ship in the third quarter, the new version of SQL Server will allow storage of spatial data ' in the form of points, lines and polygons ' in SQL tables. The software will also offer a set of functions to allow the manipulation of this data and new spatial indexes to support the execution of these functions.

The move is especially important, said John Baleja, senior product manager at ESRI, since about half the company's customer base now uses SQL Server. ESRI is the dominant vendor of geospatial software in the federal sector. 'I would say that the request for SQL access to the spatial types is probably over the last two years the No. 1 request that we received here at ESRI for new functionality,' Baleja said. 'We've been in discussions with Microsoft for quite a few years about adding a spatial type, so we are really excited to see this coming out in SQL Server 2008.'

Since 1996, ESRI's customers who wanted to use SQL Server as a data repository had to use an ESRI Web service add-on to manage the data. The biggest advantages to having native SQL support for spatial data, Baleja said, will be easier integration with other applications, more security and possibly better performance.

'Going through SQL Server, you can take advantage of a transaction management and security features that are built into SQL Server,' Baleja said. 'It's a cleaner way to have that federated enterprise system and to share content with other enterprise applications.'

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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