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SQL Server 2008 v WinFS


My colleague James has been hassling me for not posting anything of use to him…

A long time ago in a land far far away there was a cunning plan to develop a new file system around a database called WinFS.  This created quite a lot of positive reaction and there was a lot of flak when the project was taken out of Windows server 2008.  I am not going to argue the rights and wrongs of the approach or the decision to abandon it, but in my opinion that capability is alive and well and inside SQL server 2008. 

One of the goals of SQL server 2008 is “beyond relational”.  This will show up in a number of the features:

  • The filestream data type will allow any file to be stored in a filegroup like the filegroups used to hold relational data but also to treat the insert, update etc. as a normal transaction i.e. with commit and rollback.  However the file can be streamed quickly into an application as it will be in the file system and the current limit of 2Gb for varbinary(max) will no longer apply.

  • The Spatial data type will allow geographic and location data to be stored

  • Full text search has been overhauled

  • Hierarchy ID allow the relational database to understand relationships between rows in the same table far better than a parent child relationship.

  • Encryption will allow all of this data to be secured.

Add to this the access privileges that work in much the same way and inter-operate with active directory and the the fact that SQL server is behind SharePoint.

So SQL Server 2008 – a file system within an operating system.