Microsoft plans science of appliance for next SQL Server
2010 or bust
Start your clocks and count the delays: Microsoft has named the first half of 2010 as the window for the next version of SQL Server - codenamed Kilimanjaro.
Microsoft has also said it's working on an server appliance with hardware giants Bull, Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, and Unisys that'll use a subset of technology in Kilimanjaro that came with DATAllegro and Zoomix - acquired this summer - for large scale and detailed analysis.
The thrust follows HP's announcement that it's going into business with Microsoft's database, BI, and applications rival Oracle to deliver a massive, parallel, high-speed server, and storage running on Linux. Oracle has promised servers on "other" platforms, suggesting there's something in the works on Windows.
Microsoft said it plans early access Community Technology Previews (CTPs) of its server-appliance - codenamed Madison - in the next 12 months, but did not give exact dates. Kilimanjaro CTPs are also planed for the next year - again without dates.
The new version of SQL Server will be focused on business intelligence, the company said while making the announcement at its second BI conference in Redmond, Washington. Kilimanjaro will provide "self-service reporting" and "self-service analysis" through something called Project Gemini.
Microsoft promised Project Gemini would deliver self-service analysis through "deep integration" with Microsoft's SharePoint Server and Excel.
It'll be Microsoft's work with the big-iron partners in servers and storage that'll prove interesting at least in the short term. Microsoft promised Madison would use technology from the DATAllegro acquisition to build the "most demanding data warehouses and workloads" serving hundreds of terabytes and thousands of concurrent users. Zoomix would provide "rich data capabilities."
Microsoft teaming up with some names well versed in the kind of big-iron engineering this has traditionally provided the underpinning of such systems - names such as Bull and Unisys. However, Microsoft - as ever - has promised to deliver a package based on SQL Server's reputation for affordability and ease-of-use.
Microsoft said it wants to build an ecosystem around Madison and promised new data warehouse reference configurations for the current version of SQL Server - released this year following massive delays - from its hardware partners. ®
Microsoft are running scared
I think I have finally figured out what Sun are trying to do; and if I'm right, it's going to be backs-to-the-wall time for Microsoft soon.
Acquring StarOffice and opening up the code seemed a strange move (but anyone who saw the schoolboy errors in the OO.org 1.x codebase that StarDivision thought nobody would ever see, will tell you: it got the code cleaned up). Solaris and Java were more scene-setting. Acquiring MySQL at the same time as the infamous blog backend stopped being a toy and started looking like a real database was moving the Queen into play. Sun have a winner on their hands: the ability to combine the popular Java language with MySQL (can anyone spell stored procedures?) can only increase its power.
Sun have a long-term strategy. They are beginning, slowly but surely, to groom knowledgeable IT people to expect to receive the Source Code when they choose well-known, high-end products. More than one MS-hating school-leaver who ends up getting a job in a small-to-medium business and weaning them off Microsoft and onto Ubuntu will end up in a position to specify Sun hardware and software. And Sun know that. Gates and Ballmer were the reason these people walked out on MS; but The Source was the reason they stayed.
Vista was already seen by everyone outside Microsoft as Pawn to King's Knight Four. SQL Server 2010 could just be the Pawn to King's Bishop Three that follows.
God (particle) revealed by Oracle (C)
CERN is using oracle to manage the huge amounts of data generated by the LHC.
Given that CERN has also created the largest federated grid parallel supper-computer this little planet has seen.. you can be fairly sure Infiniband is in the mix.
You can all be fairly sure that the Oracle Exadata appliance was build for CERN.. so get ready for the strapline.
The irony is that Microsoft was leading in this area with Federated SQL/Server over VIA.. but dropped the ball.
Self service reporting and analysis
That's when non-technical people use a point-and-drool interface to kludge together reports that slow the server to a crawl, then pound F5 in their browsers in the futile hope that they will find enlightenment.
To me, it still looks like an old, platform-restricted version of Sybase Adaptive Server. Microsoft seem to be repeating a (recently frequent) mistake of trying to tackle Linux in its home ground, with appliances this time.
I always thought a large part of the argument for appliances was near-zero administration - a lot of companies use one or two Linux based appliances because their IT staff are largely Windows-centric with minimal if any Linux experience and skills. Since the (only possible) argument for using a GUI on a server is ease of administration and existing Windows skills, what's the point of a Windows appliance?
I dread to think what a Windows appliance would run like after a few months of zero admin anyway. This is almost as crazy as running Windows on a supercomputer.