IBM, Microsoft Square Off on Data Storage Battlefield

IBM squashes storage needs in Viper, while Microsoft is finally ready to ship production-ready database mirroring in SQL Server 2005 SP1.

The database titans are at it again, duking it out this time in the realm of storage and backup.

For its part, IBM on April 6 told eWEEK in an interview that Viper, its upcoming update to its DB2 database server software, has been infused with technology that compresses data throughout the system, including on disk and in memory, thus resulting in a 54 percent savings on storage costs with no performance hit.

On the same day, Microsofts Paul Flessner, senior vice president of data and storage platforms, announced that SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 1—due at months end—will ship with the final version of database mirroring. Database mirroring is a long-anticipated feature—many listed it as their top pick on the long list of coming attractions in the next-generation SQL Server 2005—that didnt ship in a final, production-ready form when SQL Server 2005 first came out.

Database mirroring is similar to Oracle Data Guards physical standby feature, but seemingly better at failback than Data Guard, according to independent analyst and eWEEK contributing columnist Charlie Garry. "It is an improvement over basic log shipping because it streams the active log changes," Garry wrote in an October column. "This could support both high availability or disaster recovery scenarios."

In sketching the road map for Microsofts long-term data storage vision, Flessner hyped database mirroring as part and parcel of Microsofts attention to the cost of storage. In a SQL Server 2005 update letter sent out to promote his talk, he said storage costs continue to be on "an amazing trajectory.

"One could reasonably expect that the cost of a terabyte will be reduced from about $1,000 today to $100 in 2007," he wrote. "Historical trends imply that in 20 years or less, we will be able to store literally everything digitally, and the petabyte will be a standard measure of personal storage."

Perhaps storage will be cheaper, but managing that data wont necessarily drop in cost. Database mirroring will serve as one aspect of making sure businesses maintain high availability to access that data.

"As we move from managing transactional data to pre-transactional, as with RFID and other sensors, we will face a 10-100 factor increase in data volume," Flessner wrote. "As an industry we are facing an unprecedented explosion of data that we will need to manage, with the ability to organize, summarize and prioritize all of this information becoming a key priority for IT."

Next Page: IBM pitches Vipers XML-handling capabilities.