Microsoft president Steve Ballmer has announced the availability of SQL Server 7.0, the software giant's PC-based database, claiming significant improvements in performance over SQL Server 6.5.
Ballmer admitted that favourable comparisons were made easier by the abundant deficiencies of SQL Server 6.5. "You must be asking, 'How bad were you?'," he said. "The thing to focus on is how good are we today?" he quipped to laughter from the audience attending Comdex Fall '98.
The main improvements in SQL Server 7.0 over SQL Server 6.5 are in the areas of scalability, availability and applications, he said. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software companies such as Baan, PeopleSoft and SAP AG will be able to use the database for all but the largest 5 per cent of their projects, claimed Ballmer. Baan will use SQL Server in implementations that are 10 times larger than before, while PeopleSoft implementations can be four times larger than before, Ballmer said.
Microsoft claims that the new database will be available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. "You can perform online maintenance on the database while people use it," he said. Ballmer pointed to 3000 applications being made for the database by independent software vendors during the next 18 months.
So far, 10 SQL Server 6.5 customers have moved to the new release, and 1000 customers are committed to the new database, Ballmer said.
Microsoft brought out three customers who have switched to the new product, including Pennzoil, BarnesandNoble.com and HarperCollins publishers.
Britt Mayo, director of IT for Pennzoil, praised the ease with which his company was able to switch its SAP R/3 ERP package from SQL 6.5 to SQL 7.0. While the system did suffer sluggishness right after the changeover, Mayo said it was expected.
By the end of that first day, however, the ERP system was running at improved speeds. "Our response time was cut in half," he said. "The system has been fully stable and robust for the last two to three months."
Up to 10 times faster
Similarly, Lyle Anderson, chief information officer of News America, a division of HarperCollins, claimed that SQL 7.0 is 10 times faster than the previous version for queries and four times faster for batch performance.
Online bookseller BarnesandNoble.com switched to the new database for its Web commerce activities. The company saw a 100 per cent performance increase, according to Alan Bourassa, director of strategic planning and design.
SQL Server 7.0 will be available worldwide in the reseller channel within the next 45 days.