SQL Server 2000 in the Real World

Microsoft Corp. is slated to roll-out a slew of new .NET serverapplications Sept. 26 in conjunction with the unveiling of its long-awaitedWindows 2000 Datacenter Server. One of these applications is SQL Server 2000.Despite the "official" launch date, we already know much about thedatabase application. SQL Server 2000 has been deployed by several customers inbleeding-edge environments.

Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) ispositioning SQL Server 2000 -- the first of its .NET enterprise server products-- as the data management and analysis backbone of its .NET product andservices family.

As part of its Rapid Deployment Program, Microsoft expects more than 100enterprise customers will roll out SQL Server 2000 over the next three months,but some enterprise customers have been running SQL Server 2000 -- in both betaand release candidate incarnations -- for as long as six months.

These customers are giving Microsoft’s next-generation database platformexcellent marks.

“We started out using SQL Server 7.0, and then of course the SQL Server2000 Beta 2 was pretty stable so we immediately switched over to that,” saysUsama Fayyad, president and CEO of digiMine Inc. (www.digimine.com), a venture that designs, builds, and hosts datawarehouses for enterprise customers.

“I did not see much of a difference between the beta and the finalproduct, which I think says a lot about Microsoft and about the SQL Serverteam: They understand that they’re working with a crucial product and that thedifferences between the beta and the RTM should be just tightening things upand fixing things,” Fayyad says.

DigiMine pulls enterprise data -- such as Web logs, SQL Servertransactions data, and user profiles -- over the wire at night and thenuses SQL Server 2000’s data mining and OLAP services to analyze it and preparereports for its customers by the next morning. DigiMine has been running on SQLServer 2000 for several months.

Data Return Corp. (www.datareturn.com), an application service provider (ASP) and Webhosting outfit, has had SQL Server 2000 deployed in production environmentssince February. According to Troy Garrison, program manager of e-commercetechnology at Data Return, the company’s customers are excited about thefeatures and performance of SQL Server 2000.

“Customers are very, very excited about SQL Server 2000. And becausewe’re part of Microsoft’s rapid deployment and early adopter programs, we findthat we already have customers lining up for it,” Garrison says. “SQL Server2000 is very much anticipated, and it’s helped that customers have been able towork with it early on. The anticipation has been building up.”

Jason Lochhead, Data Return's CEO, echoes digiMine’s Fayyad in sayingthat SQL Server 2000's beta process was relatively smooth.

“Every time I’ve ever worked with the SQL team, their betas have beenexcellent,” Lochhead says. “We experienced nothing out of the ordinary in thebeta process, and as a matter of fact it’s been really solid since the veryearly betas.”

The SQL Server 2000 launch and the launch of the other .NET productsprobably couldn’t have come at a better time for Microsoft. For all of thefanfare surrounding its release, Windows 2000 has been idling for the past sixmonths because it lacked a suite of server applications that were specificallydesigned to take advantage of its new features and performance.

According to Dan Kusnetzky, program vice president, system software, atIDC (www.idc.com), mostcustomers had put their Windows 2000 deployments on hold while they waited forMicrosoft to ship various components of the .NET infrastructure -- formerlyBackOffice -- particularly SQL Server 2000 and Exchange 2000.

But now that the wait is over, Mike Schiff, director of data warehousingstrategies at Current Analysis Inc. (www.currentanalysis.com), saysSQL Server 2000 appears poised to build upon the example of its predecessor,the highly successful SQL Server 7.0.

“With SQL Server 7.0 they became a real database, that is, a databasethat could actually be deployed in production environments,” Schiff explains.“[SQL Server] 6.5 did not have true row-level locking, and it just wasn’t aproduction-ready business database. But [SQL Server] 7.0 put them in the gamewhere they no longer had a product that their competitors could easily dismissas a toy. I can only believe that [SQL Server] 2000 will be even morecompetitive.”