Microsoft unwraps its JDBC driver for SQL Server

Microsoft is polishing its interoperability story with the general release of a driver that links J2EE/Java applications on any platform to a SQL Server database.

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Microsoft released today a free tool for SQL Server database administrators who want to connect desktop applications written in J2EE/Java to information stored in the two latest versions of the SQL Server database.

Using the SQL Server 2005 Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) Driver 1.0, IT managers or database administrators can link Java and J2EE applications on SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005.

The JDBC driver is a piece of Java code that complements the Java applications on a client. It speaks the language of SQL Server to get that data off of the server, said Shelby Goerlitz, a program manager at Microsoft.

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This initial release of the driver focuses on providing core functions, which have improved over the course of two beta trials beginning in June 2005. Some of those improved functions include better performance, transaction support, support for new SQL Server 2005 data types and support for JDBC 3.0. It also has support for HP-UX, IBM AIX, Linux, Solaris, Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP.

Over time, Microsoft has made a commitment to improve performance and connectivity with JBoss, the open source application server, as well as other platforms. Microsoft is planning more enhancements to the driver as the JDBC specification evolves, said Herain Oberoi, a product manager at Microsoft.

Microsoft had a previous driver for SQL Server 2000, but the level of commitment to the driver and the company's investment was limited, Oberoi said. "In environments where there are heterogeneous applications, customers have asked for better connectivity with mission critical applications. So we decided to invest more."

Microsoft will continue to support its previous driver, but it will be phased out in two years or so. For customers with old applications using this driver, they might want to consider looking at the new driver and planning a migration at some point in a year or two, according to Oberoi.

As SQL Server 2005 becomes stronger, and older versions of SQL Server start to disappear, Microsoft will concentrate more on the newer releases of the driver. While SQL Server 2005 JDBC Driver 1.0 focuses mostly on core features, the version that comes up next will have some improvements to the facilities that help customers migrate, he said.

There are other JDBC drivers on the market, such as the one made by DataDirect Technologies, in Bedford, Mass. The Microsoft driver connects only to SQL Server databases while the DataDirect driver connects to all databases.

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