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Can SQL Server be sharded for distributed data processing? Or are there any limitations that prevent relational databases from being sharded ?

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SQL Server has a feature called "distributed federated views" or sometimes "partitioned views". (Confusingly, this is very different that the "partitioned tables" feature introduced in SQL Server 2005.)

The distributed federated views feature allows a crude, inflexible sort-of-sharding. It has been in the product since SQL Server 2000. I have never personally seen anyone use the feature and be happy with it. Here is a blog entry that covers the feature a bit:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlcat/archive/2007/06/20/distributed-partitioned-views-federated-databases-lessons-learned.aspx

In short, Microsoft does not provide easy-to-implement support for sharding in the box. You can always build your own sharding system that uses SQL as the storage layer. I would look through CodePlex and SourceForge before trying to write my own.

Sorry for the formatting, I'm on a phone.

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Distributed Partitioned Views are not updatable except in Enterprise Edition. –  Greg Askew Jan 12 '13 at 16:01
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