SQL Server 2005 introduced the concept of endpoints. Every connection entry point into SQL Server is abstracted as a endpoint. You can see all the endpoints on your SQL Server instance by using the sys.endpoints metadata view. In addition to those you’d expect (for TCP/IP, Named Pipes, Shared Memory) there are also endpoints defined for the dedicated admin connection, Service Broker, Database Mirroring…and HTTP.
The endpoint concept is still with us, but HTTP endpoints, those endpoints that allow you to expose SQL Server procs and functions directly as HTTP Web Services will be deprecated in SQL Server 2008. Upon creating an HTTP endpoint (aka SOAP endpoint) in SQL Server 2008, you’ll be warned that “this feature will be removed in a future version. You should not use these in new development work.” This was announced at the SQL Server 2008 Jumpstart last week.
So what replaces this functionality (and how many folks actually used it in SQL Server 2005). The likely successor seems to be ADO.NET Data Services, a mechanism to produce RESTful services over any type of data, using Entity Data Model or LINQ to SQL. The model you expose through data services doesn’t really have to be a database at all.
And for those of you that liked the idea of exposing your stored procedures as services, ADO.NET Data Services supports “Service Operations”, which can be parameterized and contain any type of logic you wish. Service Operations aren’t limited to stored procedures, but could be used to encapsulate them.