The SSDS or SQL Server Data Services program was recently announced - http://www.microsoft.com/sql/dataservices/default.mspx. SSDS is basically a set of web services that provide a database in the clouds.
This is great news for folks building and hosting their web applications. Core value propositions I see are
- Reduced complexity - maintaining a database instance has its own costs. The DB maintenance complexity pretty much vanishes when the data base is available as a service
- low cost of acquisition and pay what what you use- this is a no brainier. You don't have to acquire a server, the server licence, client licenses etc. Just pay based on your resource usage. For small application, up and coming web sites, this flexibility can make a bit difference.
- ubiquitous access - your data is available in the cloud - securely. Access it from your web app, your mobile app, behind a firewall, from wherever.
- a strong programming model - access the data using standard web protocols (SOAP, REST), a managed client library providing LINQ support.
The SSDS site has a link for registering for the free beta program. I don't know when the beta program starts (I got put on a waiting list), but I can't wait :). Meanwhile here's a link to a MIX '08 session on SSDS - http://sessions.visitmix.com/?selectedSearch=BT05 (search for "Introducing SQL Server Data Services").
- Ameya Bhatawdekar