Microsoft eyes enterprises with SQL Server DB

Microsoft Corp., with its upcoming “Yukon” and 64-bit “Liberty” variants of its SQL Server database, is looking to oust Unix as the platform of choice for the enterprise, a Microsoft official stressed during a keynote speech Nov. 20 at the Professional Association for SQL Server Summit (PASS) conference here.

The official, Gordon Mangione, corporate vice-president of the Microsoft SQL Server team, also pledged that the company would continue supporting database versions for five years after release.

Mangione noted the 709,000 transactions per minute score reached by SQL Server on a cluster of systems, based on the Transaction Processing Performance Council benchmark. “In a short time, we’ll start touching that on a single machine,” he said.

SQL Server on Windows will surpass “proprietary” Unix servers on a single machine, Mangione said. “The investments we are making in this space, we are absolutely committed to.” The company is committed to running databases with terabytes of information, he said.

He cited an existing implementation of SQL Server supporting 26,000 users accessing a single instance of an SAP application. “It just shows you that with our software and with our corporate partners, we’re able to scale to meet the biggest needs of the biggest enterprises and do so in a cost-effective way,” Mangione said.

He also noted other examples of corporate moves to SQL Server, such as the Hilton hotel chain running PeopleSoft on SQL Server after switching from Unix.

In the area of support, Microsoft plans to support database versions for five years and allow users to extend that another two years, Mangione said. In addition, Microsoft will provide online and self-help support well beyond that time, Mangione said.

Mangione reviewed multiple Microsoft projects, including “Yukon” and 64-bit “Liberty” database. A new beta release of Liberty, otherwise known as SQL Server 2000 (64-bit), was announced.

Yukon, he said, is “a big release for SQL Server.”

Due in a beta release in the first half of 2003, Yukon is to be released in both 32- and 64-bit versions. It will enable Web services calls to be made from within the database, which becomes a native Web services host. Native XML support also is featured, including user-defined types and support of the XQuery query language. Also planned is support for Microsoft’s Common Language Runtime, which provides language independence for developers. In addition, improvements are planned for SQL Server’s T-SQL (Transact SQL) query language, such as structured exception handling.

“Yukon’s big thrust, though, is around programmability,” with its CLR support, Mangione said. Scalability and availability also are being enhanced, as is management, with new tools.

“When it comes right down to it, these systems are just too hard to manage today,” Mangione said.

Mangione also touted the 64-bit Liberty release of the database, which is planned for April 2003 and optimized to run on the Intel Corp. Itanium 2 processor. “This [database] really is the breakthrough that’s going to allow us to run on any of the biggest hardware and compete on the biggest machine,” Mangione said.

A PASS Summit attendee said Yukon offered promising XML enhancements. “I like the possibility [of looking] at the database as an XML engine,” said Tobias Thernstrom, a trainer and consultant at RBAM, a Web site development consultant in Stockholm, Sweden.

The 64-bit database was of a bit less interest, however. “We can get good performance for most of our clients with the 32-bit [SQL Server],” Thernstrom said.

Mangione also briefly touched on other planned products, including the Kodiak version of Exchange, which will run on top of Yukon; Jupiter, which represents the convergence of Microsoft e-business offerings; and the Longhorn version of Windows, planned for release no sooner than 2003.