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Three short papers about SQL Server

I'll name that instance in one

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Virtualisation, data networking, enterprise storage, security - and Microsoft SQL Server. The same topics crop up time and again as reader faves in The Reg Library. So here are three of the most popular papers concerned with one aspect of SQL Server or another from the Reg Library.

SQL Server many-to-one protection

This paper from the back-up specialist Double-Take Software heaps faint praise on the named instance architecture of SQL Server 2000 and 2005. Named instances provide complete database isolation while allowing consolidation onto the same server. But it is a bitch for back-ups. Each instance must be maintained separately from the other instances on that server, including service pack updates which must be applied independently of each other. For example, if a server has three named instances, then a new service pack must be applied three times, once for each named instance.

Guess what - Double-Take has a solution to protect the entire database instance. This eliminates manual DBA re-configuration and reduces the downtime experienced during a production failure, according to the company The paper shows you how.

Business Intelligence for the Mid-Market

Business Intelligence (BI) is traditionally seen as viable for the larger enterprise only. But it is now within reach for small and medium sized-businesses, according to this whitepaper commissioned by Microsoft and written by Rod Newing, a computer journalist.

Large corporations have already adopted BI: the earliest adopters gained the greatest advantage, the thesis runs. Now, for very large organisations, the process is returning to stasis. All use BI, so it is more the case that the advantage belongs to those who use it more effectively. So the advantage, in terms of a percentage, has dropped significantly.

The application to smaller businesses is clear, the author argues. Since the take-up has so far been minimal, the initial, huge, competitive advantage is still up for grabs. SAnd the Microsoft pitch? It says Microsoft BI helps contain costs by relieving IT professionals of the need to maintain disparate BI systems. Plus, built on the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Business Intelligence platform and delivered through the 2007 Microsoft Office system – Microsoft BI is proven and scalable too, the company claims.

McLaren Electronics fuels analysis of Formula One racing data with SQL Server

And lastly, to the most popular case study in the Reg Library, which has nothing to do with the fact that the stud-ee is a sister company of the Formula One race team McClaren.

McClaren Electronic Systems supplies the engine control unit (ECU) that is standardised for all Formula 1 racing cars. The ECU monitors all aspects of the power train components and gathers data from 100-plus sensors in each car. Generating up to one megabyte of data per second, one car’s ECU can gather more than one gigabyte of information from the sensors during a grand prix race.

This is all continuously broadcast in real time back to systems located in the pit-stop garages of each Formula One team. The ECU data collected per car per year (including practice laps and equipment testing) is as much as 2-3 terabytes. But what to do with it all?

This is where SQL Server comes in. After proof of concept testing, McClaren ditched file-based storage in favour Microsoft SQL Server 2008. The company uses the FILESTREAM feature in SQL Server 2008 to store ECU data in a relational database and enable fast retrieval. The paper contains quite a lot of technical information. Glamour and boys' toys aside, this paper is an interesting read. ®

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