SQL Server gets an overhaul

C2 security
is extremely important, and historically SQL Server has not been

Jim Gray, a senior researcher at Microsoft Corp.’s Bay Area Research Center,
is the company’s database guru and chief scalability architect for Microsoft SQL
Server 7.0.

Besides supporting terabyte databases, Gray said SQL Server 7.0 will have an
integrated online analytical processing (OLAP) server and an application programming
interface called OLE DB for OLAP.

He said about 30 OLAP tools vendors will support OLE DB initially.

GCN senior editor Florence Olsen interviewed Gray in Washington recently.

GCN: What will it take to
get federal database developers to switch from Oracle Corp. products?

GRAY: C2 security is extremely important, and historically we have not been
C2-certified. We’ll enter SQL Server 7.0 for certification as soon as the beta
product ships, which is expected very soon.

Server prices going to equalize with Oracle’s if you achieve as much scalability?

GRAY: Oracle has been charging a premium because they had a performance advantage. But
if we erode the performance advantage, they can’t charge the premium price anymore.
We’re not going to raise our prices, we’re a volume supplier.

Our whole [business] model is sell lots of [copies].

GCN: What are some of the
things you have done to SQL Server 7.0 to handle larger databases?

GRAY: We’ve redesigned the way we store data. We use 8,000-byte pages rather than
2,000-byte pages, which means one disk input-output operation rather than five disk I/Os
to get the same data. We have parallel loading, more addressing and object-oriented
programming against the SQL Server database.

GCN: How will OLAP work in
SQL Server 7.0?

GRAY: The idea is that you can store multidimensional data in a relational table or in
our multidimensional engine, which is called Plato. The engine can be on the server, or
it’s small enough that it can fit on the client.

The next version of Microsoft Excel will use this multidimensional engine as its pivot
table engine, to give you a sense of how small it is.

The key thing we’ve done is come up with an algorithm that minimizes the redundant
data, so we can store a very small part of the cube and still give you the same good
response time you would get if you had to store the whole multidimensional cube. People
have been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a product something like this.

GCN: Will SQL Server 7.0 be
Microsoft’s object-relational database?

GRAY: Our object-relational technology is OLE DB.

Objects are important, but not all of them will be in your database. Some will be
stored in e-mail directories, file systems, Hypertext Markup Language pages, spreadsheets
and log files.

Microsoft OLE DB defines what kind of object a database is.

Microsoft essentially wraps SQL Server as an OLE DB object provider. SQL Server has
also been modified in Version 7.0 to consume OLE DB objects.  


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