Integration Services is the successor to Data Transformation Services (DTS). DTS had humble beginnings. It was started on a shoestring budget with very few resources. Its first incarnation was a proof-of-concept transformation, which later became known as the data pump. The proof of concept caught the attention of some folks around Microsoft, and it was given some funding.
The first release of DTS shipped with SQL Server 7.0 to receptive users. The alternatives at the time were either difficult to work with, expensive, or both. Many DBAs were forced to write custom transformation software, which was inflexible and difficult to maintain. Some tools had limitations, such as the need for source and destination schemas to match exactly, direct dependence on a particular database product, and/or no transformation capabilities. Many wrote custom parsing and transformation applications. For example, many companies are only now converting from hand-coded flat file parsers, SQL scripts, and transformation code to a standard platform such as Integration Services.
The first release of DTS addressed several of these issues and simplified life for a lot of people. By using OLEDB for its data access layer, DTS could access various data sources with little or no custom coding. DTS was also affordable because it shipped "in the box" with SQL Server. Users had access to all the power of more expensive products, yet incurred no additional cost for their ETL tools. This was obviously a benefit to IT shops trying to stretch their budgets. DTS was a flexible product that was easy to use. There were also a number of standard tasks in the box, including the Transform Data, Execute Process, Active X Script, Execute SQL, and Bulk Insert Tasks.
SQL Server 8.0 added even more functionality by adding more tasks. The Execute Package, FTP, and MSMQ Tasks added incremental improvements across the product. However, users experienced some frustration with DTS when attempting to work with large datasets and some of the other limitations inherent in a script-based tool. The time was ripe to create a truly enterprise-ready integration tool.
In 2000, SQL Server decided to make a substantial investment in the ETL and Integration space and brought together some talented folks who formulated the ideas behind the Data Flow Task and the next version of Integration Services. Over a period of five years, the development time frame for SQL Server 2005, the DTS team completely redesigned and rewrote DTS to become Integration Services 2005.
Integration Services 2008 is the next incarnation of that release. While not as revolutionary a release as in 2005, Integration Services 2008 brings some new capabilities and incremental improvements across the product.
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