A blog posting from the WinFS team caught me a bit by surprise today. Apparently I wasn't the only one, judging by the comments. WinFS was supposed to give us a relational file system. There are security ramifications with doing that, as demonstrated in this video from BlueHat 2006 (from Channel 9), where the first part has a security program manager from WinFS talks about some of the things he learned.
However, when you consider what the benefits can be (a comment gives the example of deleting thousands of files and how long that takes... this would be near instantaneous with a properly implemented relational database structure), many folks were looking forward to getting WinFS. And Vista was supposed to deliver it. But then Microsoft made the announcement that WinFS wouldn't ship with Vista. Instead, it'd be stand-alone and it could be installed later. Now today we learn that it won't be shipped later. Mature parts of WinFS are being integrated into Katmai, the next version of SQL Server.
I'm still considering what all this means for SQL Server and for the OS. Certainly it's a loss on the OS side. We're not going to get that relational file structure we've been looking forward to. The venerable NTFS is going to have to plod on a bit longer. But on SQL Server's side, there certainly is gain. And with file integration, there is the potential to deal with BLOBs better. That makes sense given that Microsoft is trying to get more into the enterprise document management sector with Sharepoint Server 2007. But I know that integrating a file system hasn't always been as great as it sounds. Exchange Installable File System (ExIFS or just IFS) is an example. It sounded great in Exchange Server 2000, but they scaled it back in Exchange Server 2003. It'll be interesting to see how they make this work in Katmai.