After almost three years in the growth doldrums, suddenly databases are back in vogue. Business magazine cover articles now extol the resurgence of Internet-adapted relational database management systems (RDBMSs) as the backbone of e-business dot-coms, and tout online analytical processing (OLAP) and data mining for prospecting Web traffic patterns. So far, Oracle has captured the lion's share of the e-business database market and press attention, but Microsoft's feature-laden SQL Server 2000 promises to close that gap.
SQL Server 2000's new Extensible Markup Language (XML) extensions support supply-chain management and other business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce applications. Analysis Services (formerly OLAP Services) adds data-mining capabilities to discover patterns or trends in OLAP cubes and relational data. Distributed Partitioned Views (DPVs) let you horizontally split massive databases on "federated" servers. Indexed views speed queries having joins or aggregations. Full-text search works on both conventional text fields and HTML and Microsoft Office files stored in binary large object (BLOB) columns. User-defined functions let you write Transact-SQL (T-SQL) code that returns scalar values or new table objects. Beneficiaries of SQL Server 2000's plethora of additions run the gamut from VB developers to enterprise database administrators (see Resources for a feature list).
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