The current version of SQL Server, SQL Server 2008, (code-named "Katmai",)was released (RTM) on August 6th, 2008 and aims to make data management self-tuning, self organizing, and self maintaining with the development of SQL Server Always On technologies, to provide near-zero downtime. SQL Server 2008 will also include support for structured and semi-structured data, including digital media formats for pictures, audio, video and other multimedia data. In current versions, such multimedia data can be stored as BLOBs (binary large objects), but they are generic bit streams. Intrinsic awareness of multimedia data will allow specialized functions to be performed on them. According to Paul Flessner, senior Vice President, Server Applications, Microsoft Corp., SQL Server 2008 can be a data storage backend for different varieties of data: XML, email, time/calendar, file, document, spatial, etc as well as perform search, query, analysis, sharing, and synchronization across all data types.
Other new data types include specialized date and time types and a Spatial data type for location-dependent data. Better support for unstructured and semi-structured data is provided using the FILESTREAM data type has been added, which can be used to reference any file stored on the file system. Structured data and metadata about the file is stored in SQL Server database, whereas the unstructured component is stored in the file system. Such files can be accessed both via Win32 file handling APIs as well as via SQL Server using T-SQL; doing the latter accesses the file data as a binary BLOB. Backing up and restoring the database backs up or restores the referenced files as well. SQL Server 2008 also natively supports hierarchical data, and includes T-SQL constructs to directly deal with them, without using recursive queries