Microsoft has provided a glimpse of its SQL Server plans, releasing a notification engine that will be incorporated into the next generation of its database software.
First unveiled in April, SQL Server 2000 Notification Services is a standalone message generating and matching engine that allows firms to automate the delivery of specific information to a target audience.
For example, an estate agent could use it to inform potential buyers of the availability of desired properties as soon as they come on the market.
Notification Services is to be included in the next full release of SQL Server, code-named Yukon.
Using a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 database as a basis, applications can be built using Notification Services that can send and receive data from almost any source, including mobile devices, said Cassandra Nuttall, server solutions marketing manager at Microsoft UK.
"All commercial organisations do some sort of communication with customers. This allows businesses to provide a better service level," she said.
It has been used successfully as part of a supply chain management system built by consulting firm Atos-KPMG and Bradford Hospital NHS Trust.
The Wander project at Bradford Hospital had been ongoing prior to the beta launch of Notification Services, but relied on purchasing staff confirming details via email.
Using Notification Services, alerts are automatically sent when certain pieces of data change. This allows purchasing staff to keep an accurate record of order processing.
The Notification Services have made a "fantastic" difference to the Wander system, said Ben Jones, head of development, design and engineering at Atos-KPMG.
"We are currently looking at how we can use it in every one of our services," he said.
While some system integrators will have taken part in beta tests, Microsoft is soon to provide training on Notification Services for all of its resellers.
"The extent of the training will depend upon how familiar our partners are with our .Net framework," said Nuttall.
Despite having launched the beta version in April, some businesses have chosen to develop their own technology. The Office of the e-Envoy recently told vnunet.com that it would be developing its own notification engine for use by Government departments.
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