I'm happy to report that Dr. David DeWitt, one of the top minds in the database field, has joined Microsoft as a Technical Fellow. David is tasked with starting up a new advanced development lab in partnership with the University of Wisconsin- Madison – the Jim Gray Systems Lab. The naming of the lab is a tribute to honor the late Jim Gray, the Turning Award winning Microsoft computer scientist whose contributions to the database and transaction processing field are so widely regarded.

David recently retired as active Professor in the Computer Sciences Department and was the founder of the database group at the UW-Madison. He was a legend at the University for the past 32 years, known not just as an educator, but a practical researcher who focused on building working systems. David did some of the first work on parallel databases which was a huge contribution to the field. And of course, he has educated a many students – students that over the years have made big contributions themselves to the field.

The work of the Jim Gray Systems Lab is just now beginning. Basically, the Lab will focus on advanced development on Microsoft codebases to come up with innovations and directions for the future of data management. David’s passion for exploring theories of how database management systems can be more capable and cost-effective is unrivaled. Through the partnership with the University, David will continue to have an impact on education. That partnership will establish a collaborative environment with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Computer Science Department that enables graduate students to participate directly in the lab working with David and his team.

It’s an exciting time to be in the database industry, and having David on-board and a collaboration with the University through the Lab is going to have a big impact to SQL Server.

We are looking forward to sharing new developments from the Jim Gray Systems Lab in the future. For more on David’s legacy, please check out the interview he recently completed with PressPass: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2008/apr08/04-23DeWitt.mspx