Well, it didn't happen overnight, but Microsoft claimed it will be able to demonstrate that it can indeed meet the $US1 million challenge issued by database arch-rival Oracle in November of last year.
Oracle's chairman and chief executive Larry Ellison laid down the gauntlet to Microsoft at his keynote address at the Comdex/Fall show in Las Vegas last November. He challenged anyone using SQL Server with a 1 terabyte TPC-D database to run a standard data-warehouse business query within 100 times of Oracle's best published performance.
"If you can make SQL 7 run no less than 100 times slower than Oracle8i, we'll give you a million dollars," Ellison said at his keynote speech.
Microsoft officially launched SQL Server 7.0 at Comdex, positioning it as a highly scalable piece of software and a vast improvement on the previous release, version 6.5. One of the features Microsoft talked up was that its database was now able to run OLAP (online analytical processing) queries against terabyte-sized data warehouses.
According to a Microsoft statement issued last week, the software giant, in conjunction with Hewlett-Packard, will meet the Ellison challenge at less than one-sixteenth of the cost of the Oracle solution.
The Microsoft/HP response will involve using SQL Server 7.0 Enterprise Edition, SQL Server OLAP Services and HP's Net Server LXr 8000 server to create a database capable of handling 1 terabyte of data. Microsoft will solve the Oracle problem using a $US600,000 system compared to a $US10 million system from Oracle, Microsoft claimed in the statement.
The demonstration of the solution will be hosted by Jim Gray, senior researcher, Microsoft Research; Paul Flessner, general manager, Microsoft SQL Server development; and Michael Mahon of HP, Microsoft said.
Speaking in December of last year to IDG News Service, Rich Tong, vice president of applications product management for Microsoft's applications and tools group (and whose remit includes SQL Server), welcomed Ellison's challenge as proof that Oracle saw SQL Server as a serious competitor to Oracle8i.
At that time, Tong predicted: "Larry's multimillion-dollar computer will beat our $US50,000 by two-tenths of a second, because it's his test. It's likely that the cost of the Oracle database software alone will be more than the whole thing for Microsoft, including SQL Server, consulting, software and hardware."
Both Microsoft and Oracle officials were not available for comment.
For details on the Oracle challenge, please see http://www.oracle.com/challenge.