On August 26, Microsoft announced the release to Web (RTW) of SQL Server 2000 Notification Services, a high-performance notification application platform for SQL Server 2000 that lets developers create applications that generate custom messages. Built on SQL Server 2000 and the Microsoft .NET Framework, Notification Services consists of a programming framework and a highly scalable server that executes the applications. You can prototype robust notification applications in a few days as opposed to lengthy development time frames.

My company has employed Notification Services on two projects, and we've found it extremely easy to implement—which, of course, is its most powerful feature. NASDAQ's Web site and "The New York Times" Web site use Notification Services to provide crucial customized data for their customers. Praveen Seshadri, architectural engineer for SQL Server at Microsoft, said, "Almost all commercial Web sites and customer-facing enterprise applications are trying to do some form of alerting or messaging with its customers. There hasn't been a better time to provide proactive data subscription and delivery services, as one can no longer assume that a customer will always be at their terminal for unlimited hours searching for information they need. Microsoft has extracted the 'plumbing' of these types of applications and provided a platform where users can simply focus on building their application and business logic to provide timely and personal information notifications to their customer to foster stronger customer relationships and service. The model is easy to learn, and developers will be able to build working prototypes of highly scalable applications in a day. Information can come from any data source, ranging from external Web services and data feeds to internal business systems. Input data is not limited to data that resides on SQL Server."

You can check out the MSN Mobile Web site to see Notification Services in action—MSN Mobile uses the new platform to power its Alerts link on its home page. I use Notification Services through MSN Mobile to send me traffic and stock alerts. If you have a telephone device and a provider that supports the application, the process of configuring alerts is quite simple to set up. You can choose from all the supported devices and providers by using the wizards on the MSN Mobile site. To read more about Notification Services and to download the software, visit the following URL: