Microsoft Corp.s fast and powerful SQL Server 2000 for 64-bit database was unleashed Thursday at one of the companys biggest product launches ever, the Windows Server 2003 launch taking place in San Francisco and attended by some 2,500 people.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was joined at the launch even by Intel Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Otellini to announce new TPC (Transaction Processing Performance Council) results that ranked SQL Server 2000 (64-bit) with Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition as No. 1 in two benchmarks.
The TPC-C1 result of 658,277 tpmC (transactions per minute) at a cost of $9.82/tpmC was set by Hewlett-Packard Co., they said. HP scored the result on its 64-processor Superdome system using Intels Itanium 2 chip, SQL Server 2000 (64-bit) and Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition. The cost per tpmC was 66 percent less than the cost of the nearest Unix system result, the officials said.
Siebel Systems Inc., Unisys Corp. and Microsoft also achieved the No. 1 benchmark for Siebel eBusiness Applications with 30,000 concurrent users running Siebel 7 on a Unisys ES7000 server with the 64-bit versions of SQL Server 2000 and Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition.
Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., has plenty of company in the 64-bit database world. Oracle Corp. on Thursday announced general availability of Oracle9i Database Release 2 on 32- and 64-bit Windows Server 2003 at the operating systems launch event.
“This announcement underscores Oracles long-term commitment to providing the best database software available on Windows—at lower costs—for our customers, partners and developers,” Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president of Database Server Technologies at Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif., said in a release. “This means that customers can upgrade their Oracle database servers without any delay and immediately begin building and deploying applications for their Oracle environments.”
Sheryl Tullis, product manager for SQL Server, told eWEEK that the market has been clamoring for hardware and software—such as SQL Server for 64-bit—that will enable them to scale up rather than out. Scaling up entails big boxes running fast chips that have gotten more affordable with the releases of Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s 64-bit Opteron and Intels Itanium and Itanium 2 processors. Scaling out involves clusters of database servers.
“Customers are saying two things,” Tullis said. “One is that managing the different nodes [in a cluster] is difficult. Its important to scale out for some companies, if they have large e-commerce businesses, but 99 percent of our customers scale up. And two, the great strides that hardwares made. Now you have Itanium chips, Itanium 2 chips, in really good, big boxes. Its much more affordable for customers to buy a big single system now. Its just a market truth out there that most people are looking at server consolidation and [are saying], How do I make this simpler to administer in one box and still have headroom so I can grow?”
Tullis pointed to customers such as Liberty Medical—a PolyMedica Corp. company that provides direct-to-home diabetes and respiratory medications and supplies—as the typical of the type of company that will benefit from running SQL Server databases in a 64-bit environment. Liberty Medical has been testing 64-bit SQL Server 2000 to evaluate its potential to process orders that come in by phone or via the Web.
An e-commerce setup like Liberty Medical requires ample RAM in order to accommodate the large numbers of concurrent users who access the Web site to research or order products. SQL Server 2000 for 64-bit has been tested with 512GB of addressable memory space—a considerable boost from the 4GB that Microsoft officials considered the threshold for a large data set prior to 64-bit, according to Tullis. Liberty Medical has benchmarked the 64-bit database and seen 159 percent increased performance in terms of actual transactions being processed, she said.
Other enterprises that stand to gain from the capacity for more concurrent users and faster performance include those handling large data sets—such as are churned out by supply chain management applications—or those processing complex data models. John Hopkins University is one such enterprise. The Baltimore-based university is testing SQL Server 2000 for 64-bit running huge algorithms used in mapping the sky. According to Tullis, the university is now outputting forecasted sky maps much quicker: Operations that once took six months now take 10 days.
Large business intelligence and data warehousing projects will also get a boost from 64-bit, since the technology enables the building of larger OLAP cubes that present the results of such projects.
But the prospect of running such projects faster and better doesnt lure small, budget-challenged customers to 64-bit, in spite of the fact that the technology is getting commoditized. Robert Lardizabal, a database administrator for a company that services the credit-counseling industry and that he declined to name, said that SQL Server 2000 is running just fine without 64-bit support.
“The problem with 64-bit is you need 64-bit machines to run it on,” said Lardizabal, in Columbia, Md. “When we were looking at improving performance on our Web site, we did throw around the idea of implementing a 64-bit solution, but … it would be one solution wed evaluate after we went through all our other options.” Those other options wound up being more Web and application servers, rewriting the site in .Net, segmenting Internet connections, and implementing compression technology—a smorgasbord of approaches that wound up having a “dramatic” improvement in performance, he said.
Another reason Lardizabals company isnt rushing out to implement SQL Server for 64-bit is, like many companies, it has a wait-and-see attitude. “Our approach to adopting or implementing software, especially from Microsoft, is to allow the technology to settle for eight months to a year and wait for the first service pack to address the bugs that come out,” he said.
Customers who now have a SQL Server 2000 license will be able to replace their existing license with the 64-bit version for no additional cost. Another way to get 64-bit SQL Server 2000 will be to purchase equipment from manufacturers including Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Unisys Corp. and NEC Corp.
Oracle9i Database Release 2 for 32- and 64-bit Windows Server 2003 can be downloaded from Oracle Technology Network.
This story was changed after it original posting to correct and add to the benchmark information.
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