Microsoft pushes latest version of SQL as capable of ousting Oracle in govt. market

Microsoft Corp.’s SQL Server 7.0, set for a Nov. 16 launch, will “hammer away
at database support and administration costs” with the goal of replacing Oracle Corp.
database software in the government market, said Chris Guziak, an account executive for
Microsoft federal systems in Washington.

The Oracle8i universal file system and database management system is due out next
month. Just as Oracle throws more operating system functions into its DBMS, Microsoft
plans to fight back with its own OS-centric plan.

“We took the Microsoft Transaction Server out of SQL Server and put it in the
OS,” said Keith Hurwitz, senior technology specialist for Microsoft federal systems.

The same thing eventually will happen with directory services in Microsoft Exchange
Server. Future versions will use the Active Directory services of Microsoft Windows NT
5.0, which is still in development.

SQL Server 7.0 will integrate a database management system, data warehouse, online
analytical processing (OLAP) server, heterogeneous query engine, data transformation
platform and Oracle database gateway, “for a 10th the price” that Oracle users
pay, Guziak said.

Unlike SQL Server 6.5 and most other DBMSes, SQL Server 7.0 works dynamically with NT
to allocate memory for user connections. That simplifies administration and user support,
Hurwitz said.

SQL Server 7.0 “decides how much memory it can use without causing NT paging,
which is a killer for database performance,” he said. The database administrator need
not preconfigure memory or the size of the procedure cache, “stuff that people who
aren’t database Ph.D.s don’t understand,” he said.

A desktop version of SQL Server 7.0 will be part of Office 2000 Professional, the next
release of the Microsoft Office suite, Hurwitz said. Users can decide whether to install
Microsoft’s Access desktop DBMS with the kernel used in SQL Server 7.0 or to install
the kernel that now comes with Access.

Either way, they will notice no difference in the way Access looks, Hurwitz said. But
the Join Engine Technology kernel and new Microsoft Database Engine (MSDE) kernel do
create different storage formats.

Users who install the MSDE kernel will have two-way replication between their desktop
databases and the SQL Server database on the server. “That’s important for
mobile users,” Guziak said.

Following a similar course, Microsoft will design the next Microsoft Office suite so
that analysts can import their OLAP cubes into Excel pivot tables.

The idea is to integrate, package and sell enterprise database platforms as commodity
software, Guziak said.

As for the programming expertise normally required for enterprise database systems, SQL
Server 7.0 simplifies that, too, Hurwitz said.

“You can leverage your skills in Microsoft Visual Basic, because there’s not
much more you have to learn to write programs so they will plug into the Microsoft
Transaction Server and lots of people can use them simultaneously,” he said. 


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