First Oracle, now Microsoft is joining the NoSQL party. At this week’s SQL PASS Summit in Seattle, Microsoft’s VP of Business Platform Development announced the company was developing its own implementation of Hadoop for Windows Server and Azure. Microsoft also revealed a strategic partnership with Yahoo spinoff Hortonworks. Have we just entered the Twilight zone?

Microsoft Embraces NoSQL

Microsoft is not stepping away from its popular database. In fact, SQL Server Denali, soon to be known as SQL Server 2012 is planned to ship early next year. However, the company is expanding beyond the relational world to provide customers another choice for managing data -- a Windows version of Hadoop.

The new Windows based Hadoop will integrate with Microsoft’s existing business intelligence tools like PowerPivot and Excel. Microsoft has indicated they will make the code for the new Hadoop version available back to the open source community for possible inclusion back into the core Hadoop project. Interestingly, Microsoft is investing in making JavaScript the language to develop in for big data. They want to support developers writing high performance MapReduce jobs in JavaScript.

Microsoft has already released connectors for Apache Hadoop to SQL Server. A community technology preview (CTP) version of the Azure service is planned by the end of the year, and a CTP for Windows server should follow in 2012. Official production release dates were not disclosed.

Microsoft has also indicated they will be working with the Hadoop community to provide contributions to the Apache Hadoop ecosystem of tools and technologies, which should make it easier for existing Hadoop users to leverage their existing knowledge and skills.

Does this mean that Microsoft will give up its efforts to develop an alternative to Hadoop and MapReduce? According to company officials, no. Projects like Dryad and the Daytona will continue. I'm sure in the future we can expect some Microsofized version of a NoSQL tool reminiscent of other technologies Microsoft built an alternative to -- anybody remember Jscript?

The Hortonworks Partnership

Microsoft isn’t taking its journey down the NoSQL road alone. It has formed a strategic partnership with Hortonworks, the Yahoo spinoff filled with developers responsible for much of the original code base. Hortonworks was also in the news recently for a dispute with Hadoop competitor Cloudera that went something like:

Hortonworks said “Our code is bigger than everybody elses.” and Cloudera was all like “Nuh uh, we wrote more code.” Then, Hortonworks was all, “As if. We have more code and it’s better.”

Well, maybe it didn’t go quite like that, but, it was pretty much the functional equivalent. As data sizes in the enterprise continue to grow at an astounding rate, competition in the NoSQL market will increase as more vendors come forward to offer non-relational alternatives to meet big data challenges.