I just finished watching a Channel 9 video on the future of querying data using Visual Studio. It's really interesting stuff because it shows the way Microsoft is intending to abstract the developer away from individual data providers and their related quirks and provide a unified language layer with which to get any data from any system.
The codename for language itself is called Language Integrated Query (LINQ) and it's available in the May CTP of Visual Studio. LINQ can at the moment query against XML, Relational and Object data and going forward this list will increase, whilst keeping the developer experience the same. LINQ can be written in either C# or VB.NET at the moment, but as with .NET expect other languages to follow.
So what does this mean for Business Intelligence and SQL Server? Well considering the tight integration already present with Visual Studio .NET, it goes without saying this technology is great for providers of 3rd party Business Intelligence and other solutions who look to build upon the Microsoft platform. No longer will a software house require an expert in a particular data provider or data source, all they need is a LINQ expert - which equates to lower training and hiring costs.
Check out the Channel 9 session here.