SQL Server 2000 this week became the first of Microsoft’s DNA severs to reach the RTM (release to manufacturing) milestone. Meanwhile, Redmond has been testing the new database server with ASP partners like DigiMine and Data Return, as well as with customers such as Cascade Designs, TV Guide Online and Inmar. Microsoft currently plans to ship SQL Server and all other DNA servers – except BizTalk Server – by the end of September, according to Jeff Ressler, lead product manager for SQL Server.
SQL Server 2000 ASPs and early adopters say they’re impressed with features ranging from scalability, performance and manageability to enhancements such as the database’s integrated OLAP, new data-mining tools, and ability to store and retrieve XML format.
DigiMine, a now emerging data-warehousing ASP, has been using Microsoft’s IIS in conjunction with three SQL Server 2000 servers, notes CEO Usama Fayyad. Fayyad, who formerly headed up Microsoft’s Data Mining & Exploration Group, founded DigiMine four months ago along with two other Redmond alum.
About half of digiMine’s initial group of round 20 customers are small businesses. Larger customers range from “bricks and clicks” and major e-tailer to three different B2B marketplaces. digiMine also is looking at using BizTalk in conjunction with some B2B marketplaces, Fayyad says.
The data warehousing of digiMine’s beta customers run the gamut from a few gigabytes to one-half terabyte. For some of the larger customers, DigiMine is using SQL Server 2000’s new logical partitioning capability to spread a data warehouse among multiple servers.
Fayyad previously led development efforts at Microsoft to embed data mining in both SQL Server 2000 and Commerce Server. Not surprisingly, he sees SQL Server 2000 as easy to administer. The digiMine CEO also perceives strong demand for outsourced data-warehousing services.
“Most (internally administered) data warehouses are not succeeding. Companies bring in outside consultants like IBM to build the data warehouse. Then they declare it done. But a ot of (other) database are difficult to keep up-to-date. When the information goes stale, employees stop using the data warehouse,” Fayyad maintains.
Data Return, another partner that is testing SQL Server 2000 hosting services, previously announced plans to help Microsoft fine-tune Exchange 2000, a fellow Microsoft DNA server, for the ASP environment.
Microsoft customer Cascade Designs also is using SQL Server 2000 for data mining. But in Cascade’s case, the 26GB database is being internally hosted, according to Barry Paxman, Cascade’s IT manager.
SQL Server 2000 also is acting as the main sales analysis tool for data derived through Cascade’s deployment of JD Edwards’ OneWorld. But data mining isn’t Cascade’s only reasn for using SQL Server 2000. “We wanted more speed, and we also wanted the XML,” Paxman explains.
During its recent Financial Analysts Day event, Microsoft released new TPC-C benchmarks based on code modifications to SQL Server 2000. Like previously released results from Microsoft, later withdrawn from the TPC Council due to a dispute over rules compliance, the new results are claimed to shatter earlier industry records for transaction processing in either the Windows or Unix environment.
According to Paxman, Cascade is now considering adding BizTalk, Microsoft’s XML server, to its SQL Server 2000 implementation some time during the fourth quarter.
“The best part of all this is that I haven’t had to hire any new IT people. It was really nice being able to just jump right in,” asserts Lee A. Fromson, Cascade’s VP and CFO. Cascade moved to SQL Server 2000 directly from SQL Server 7. Cascade’s existing administrators have found it a simple matter to master the new database, according to Fromson.
For TV Guide Online, another SQL Server 2000 user, greater scalability is the initial driver. TV Guide Online’s 20GB database is used for very high volume, read-only operations, says Lyle Anderson, the company’s CIO. Up to 40,000 end users can be hitting on the Web-site’s database at any single time.
The need for scalability is so intense that TV Guide Online previously relied on in-memory databases developed in-house. “But SQL Server 2000 is a lot easier to manage,” Anderson contends.
Ressler notes that Inmar, another early adopter, is using SQL Server 2000 to run data-warehousing and data-mining applications used for sales and marketing information in the consumer packaged goods industry.
Over the next three months, Ressler says, more than 100 more customers will be going live with SQL Server 2000, through a new rapid deployment program to be delivered by Microsoft.
By: Jacqueline Emigh