SQL Server 2005 will likely be a dud at delivering high-performance computing, according to a new report from Forrester Research Inc.
This major upgrade of Microsoft Corp.s enterprise relational DBMS is due in the summer. Summer being only a few months away, its “surprising” that no TPC-C results have yet been published, according to Noel Yuhanna, author of the report, titled “SQL Server 2005 Likely to Fall Short in High-End Performance Delivery.”
On top of that, beta users have cited no benefits when it comes to high-end scalability, Yuhanna reported.
A Microsoft spokeswoman attributed the lack of TPC-C results to the fact that the DBMS is still in beta.
Yuhanna was skeptical of this explanation, pointing to IBM and Oracle Corp., both of which are ever-eager to roll out results for their high-end databases months before the general availability of the products.
“DBMS vendors typically roll out their high-end performance numbers six months before a major release,” Yuhanna said in an interview with eWEEK.com.
Microsoft recently shipped the third Community Technology Preview of SQL Server 2005.
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Why the lack of performance results? Yuhanna said that Microsoft isnt able to match the results of its competitors and therefore wants the whole thing to just go away. “The fact is that now were getting larger and larger numbers [from IBM and Oracle],” said Yuhanna, in Santa Clara, Calif. “I think Microsoft is not able to keep up.”
Yuhanna surveyed a dozen SQL Server 2005 beta customers who told him that they were finding no key high-end scalability benefits. After 18 months of the products being in beta, this is a “key concern” for those customers, some of whom plan to migrate to Oracle, DB2 and other DBMSes instead of waiting for a major upgrade to SQL Server 2005 beyond the year 2005, he said.
IBM leads the pack when it comes to high-performance computing, recently having set a record TPC-C benchmark record of 3.2 million transactions per minute. That blistering speed sets the bar even higher for Microsoft, which now holds the sixth spot in the TPC-C benchmark standings.
TPC benchmarks are one of several criteria customers use to choose a high-end, scalable database, Yuhanna said. “High-end” computing refers to very large workloads that support multi-terabyte databases and thousands of concurrent users running on large SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) servers or distributed clustered environments.
SQL Server has a reputation as being easy to use and more affordable than Oracle, IBM DB2 and Sybase Inc. databases. As such, the majority of SQL Server deployments are for small to medium-sized database applications running on one- to four-processor Windows servers.
Forrester estimates that of the 2,000 deployments worldwide with production databases larger than a terabyte, only a handful—about 80—run SQL Server, with the majority running on Oracle and DB2.
IBM, Oracle Nibble at
Microsofts Market Share”>
While Microsoft has been banking on SQL Server 2005 being able to crack the upper echelon of high-performance computing, Oracle and IBM have been nibbling away at the database market at the lower end, with both companies having recently put out lower-cost, leaner versions of their RDBMSes.
That hits directly at Microsofts claim to ship a lower-cost DBMS. Microsoft has skewered its own legacy as well, recently announcing a new pricing structure for SQL Server 2005 that increases the license cost by 25 percent for the enterprise product, to $24,999.
Oracle is known for offering steep licensing discounts off its high database list price, so the actual price advantage of SQL Server is shrinking, Forrester noted. Microsoft still can claim the higher road when it comes to multicore and hyperthreaded processors, however: Microsoft does not charge separately per core, in contrast to IBM and Oracle.
Also, Microsoft includes business intelligence, OLAP (online analytical processing), data mining and reporting tools at no extra cost, which can lower the overall database cost.
IDC found that Microsofts share of the worldwide database market grew faster than that of any other database vendor in 2004.
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When it comes to SQL Servers easy manageability, IBM and Oracle are catching up there as well. IBMs autonomic computing work is making DB2 ever easier to manage, while Oracle continues to improve automation. SQL Server 2005s shipping delays have helped its competitors to move ahead in these areas. The last major SQL Server upgrade was SQL Server 2000, now considered an outdated product, Yuhanna said.
Over the past five years, Oracle has shipped two major versions—9i and 10g—and IBM has issued various DB2 8.x releases. “SQL Servers delay has broadened the gap in technology delivery, as competitors have forged ahead with innovative features and functionality, especially in high-end performance,” the report reads. “Oracle RAC [Real Application Clusters] has increased presence in high-end delivery with support for more nodes and automated load balancing, while DB2 UDB Version 8.2 has improved support in its optimizer, lock mode, pre-fetching data and design advisor.”
Not that the delays in shipping SQL Server 2005 are unwarranted, Yuhanna said, they being caused in part by the necessary work of getting the database integrated with all of Microsofts enterprise products and solutions. “They dont just focus on databases: They focus on developing environments and operating systems, which also have to be tightly integrated, which is a factor in the delay of the rollout.”
Thats a worthy goal, he said, but one that doesnt hamper a vendor such as Oracle, which “doesnt care which operating systems they run on,” Yuhanna said. “They just want to deliver high-performance, scalable databases.”
Editors Note: Forrester plans to update the report in question over the coming days in order to add responses from additional SQL Server customers.
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