Microsoft Looks to Push SQL Server Deeper into the Data Warehousing Space

Microsoft teams with Bull, Dell and HP to release a set of pretested reference architectures to make it easier to create data warehouses. The Microsoft SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse is part of Microsoft's continued efforts to expand its footprint in the higher end of the data warehousing space.

Microsoft has partnered with a number of hardware vendors to create a new set of reference architectures aimed at cutting the complexity associated with creating data warehouses.

Microsoft officials say the Microsoft SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse is intended to give customers access to preconfigured industry-standard hardware from Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Bull. In addition, Microsoft officials said Microsoft is partnering with Avanade, Cognizant Technology Solutions, HP and Hitachi Consulting to provide solution templates and technical guidance to help customers create customized architectures for their data warehouse needs.

"This is basically a step towards appliance-sizing SQL Server for data warehousing ... basically Microsoft taking on the responsibility for pretuning the database-to-hardware interface, which we've just found over the years to be a point of real complexity and difficulty for the typical DBA [database administrator]," said Stuart Frost, general manager of Microsoft's SQL Server Data Warehousing Product Unit.

"A DBA will take whatever hardware his company uses, and from the vendor point of view ... we have no idea what the customer is trying to deploy on," Frost continued. "What we have to do is work with a very disparate set of hardware platforms over the years, so we really couldn't optimize the database to work in a specific way with the hardware platform. This creates a lot of work for the DBA. They have to be able to understand operating systems settings, storage infrastructure ... and they have to understand how to get SQL Server to work on that platform."

The reference architectures will solve those problems, he said, and build on the foundation that Microsoft laid down with the purchase of DATAllegro in 2008. According to officials at Microsoft, the company is pushing ahead with plans to integrate DATAllegro's massively parallel processing technology with SQL Server 2008 in a project code-named Madison.

The offering is meant to increase Microsoft SQL Server 2008's scalability up to 32TB and to slash the time and effort required to deploy mission-critical projects. Through balanced configurations, the new reference architectures are designed to optimize all hardware components, delivering up to 200MB per second per central processing unit core, according to Microsoft. The hardware and reference architectures are available from Bull, Dell and HP starting at $13,000 per terabyte.

"With Microsoft SQL Server 2008 running on Dell PowerEdge servers, these new data warehousing solutions are able to scale from several terabytes to multi-tens of terabytes," Judy Chavis, director of Software Marketing and Business Development at Dell, said in a statement. "Soon, they'll be able to scale even higher. This industry-standard solution gives customers a cost-effective alternative to other proprietary business intelligence solutions available today."