Update on SQL Server Modeling CTP (Repository/Modeling Services, "Quadrant" and "M")

In October 2007, Microsoft introduced “Oslo” as the codename for a set of technical investments to apply model-driven principles to building applications and services. Since that announcement, many of those investments have shipped in products such as the .NET Framework, Windows Server AppFabric and Windows Azure AppFabric. This note is an update on the three “Oslo” investments that have yet to ship: the “Oslo” repository, “Quadrant”, and “M.” 

We created the “Oslo” repository to make the model of a system or application easily accessible without relying on application-specific machinery to consume or query those models. The “Oslo” repository achieves this by storing the models for applications and systems in a shared SQL Server relational database.

Over the past year, we’ve gotten strong and consistent feedback from partners and customers indicating they prefer a more loosely-coupled approach; specifically, an approach based on a common protocol and data model rather than a common store. The momentum behind the Open Data Protocol (OData) and its underlying data model, Entity Data Model (EDM), shows that customers are acting on this preference.

With OData, we’ve enabled access to information across a growing number of technologies, data sources, and tools, including .NET Framework, Visual Studio, Microsoft Excel Power Pivot, SQL Server Reporting Services, SharePoint 2010, Windows Azure storage, and Codename “Dallas.”

With EDM, we’ve created a common abstract model for data that can be represented in multiple forms (XML-based EDMX/CSDL, C# or Visual Basic classes, visual designers, OData metadata) to simplify the creation and sharing of models.

Given the increasing adoption of both OData and EDM, we have decided to focus our investments in those technologies to make our modeling vision a reality. One important aspect of that focus is that we will not bring “Oslo” repository to market. We believe that taking a loosely coupled, federated approach using OData and EDM will ultimately get more models exposed sooner than an approach based on building a common repository database.

We created a visual tool codenamed “Quadrant” to help people query, update and visualize information that is stored in SQL Server databases.  As with the “Oslo” repository, customers told us that they wanted to work with information from a variety of sources, not just data stored in an RDBMS. Customers also told us that they wanted the experience to be native to the tools they are already using; specifically either Visual Studio or Microsoft Office. Given this feedback, we are not bringing “Quadrant” to market. Instead, we will work to make the experience with OData and EDM in Visual Studio and Microsoft Office even better.

Finally, we created a language codenamed “M” for defining schema, constraints, queries, and transformations. While we used “M” to build the “Oslo” repository and “Quadrant,” there has been significant interest both inside and outside of Microsoft in using “M” for other applications. We are continuing our investment in this technology and will share our plans for productization once they are concrete.

Don Box