While Oracle Corp., Informix Software Inc. and IBM hurry to add object capabilities to the engines of their relational databases, Microsoft Corp. is marching to the beat of a different drummer.
Specifically, the Redmond, Wash., company is focusing efforts on its forthcoming OLE DB architecture, said company officials at DB Expo this week in New York and in separate briefings. Microsoft intends for its SQL Server RDBMS to handle object data stored in the data's native application (for example, a spreadsheet, word processor or E-mail program) rather than in the SQL Server engine.
Although implementations of the OLE DB architecture do not exist yet, Microsoft shipped an OLE DB software development kit in September. And the new version of SQL Server, due out in the second half of 1997, is being designed to let it query any OLE DB-enabled data source, Microsoft officials said.
In the long run, Microsoft plans to add support for new data types inside SQL Server itself, but for now the company's emphasis is on the OLE DB approach, officials said.
"This is an interesting, user-centric approach to accessing unstructured data," said Wayne Eckerson, an analyst at Patricia Seybold Group, in Boston. "It's not, however, for mission-critical applications, but rather for casual desktop usage."