News in Brief

Microsoft's 64-bit SQL Server; new integrated suite from Plumtree

Microsoft Unleashes 64-bit SQL Server

Microsoft Corp. last week released the long-awaited 64-bit version of its SQL Server 2000 database, SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition, designed for systems powered by the 64-bit Itanium microprocessor from Intel Corp.

The new database—with its support for a 64-bit memory space and faster performance—is expected to be one of the first killer applications for Itanium.

Microsoft says that specific applications—such as data warehousing, decision support, and data mining—will benefit most from the 64-bit database.

At least one analyst expects that 64-bit SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition will see some success in large database environments. “The TPC-C [benchmark results] that have been delivered on Itanium and SQL Server with Windows Server 2003 are extremely impressive … and I certainly think that Windows is going to make some gains in big databases running on top of Itanium,” says Gordon Haff, a senior analyst with consultancy Illuminata.

If benchmarks results are correct, Microsoft has already ridden 64-bit SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition to the top of the scalability heap.

In advance of its launch of Windows Server 2003 in late April, Microsoft and NEC posted record-setting results on the Transaction Processing Performance Council’s chief OLTP benchmark, the TPC-C.

Together, the companies, using a 32-processor NEC server running 64-bit Itanium processors with SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition and a 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition, achieved a 13 percent improvement over the previous best result—a combination of Fujitsu hardware and the Solaris operating system that had stood since August 2001.

Notwithstanding its 64-bit capabilities, SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition essentially reduplicates the features of the 32-bit SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition database. This means that it offers limited support for clustering—eight-nodes, fail-over only—and XML support.

Competitor Oracle Corp., on the other hand, boasts a Real Application Clusters technology that is both scalable (nodes combine to form a more powerful clustered system) and highly available. Oracle also offers robust XML support in its 9i database, including the ability to store and manipulate XML data.

Microsoft says that 64-bit SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition will be available for about the same price as its 32-bit version.

Plumtree Announces Integrated Enterprise Suite

Plumtree Software last week announced Plumtree Enterprise Suite, an integrated offering that consolidates new versions of Plumtree’s stand-alone products.

Plumtree currently markets a portal offering—Corporate Portal 5.0—along with search (Plumtree Search), collaborative (Plumtree Collaboration Server), and content management (Plumtree Content Server) products. The company has developed several new integration points between all four products, including suite-wide application development, branding, search and document management features.

The Plumtree Enterprise Suite will also feature a new product: the Plumtree Enterprise Web Development Kit (EDK). The company says it can be used to create applications from Web services running on different platforms.

In addition, Plumtree representatives indicate that a new version of Plumtree Studio Server—a platform that facilitates the creation of database-driven forms and services in an Enterprise Web without coding—will be available later this summer.

Analysts are taking a cautious perspective on Plumtree’s new Enterprise Suite offering. Robert Lerner, a data warehousing analyst with Current Analysis Inc., is quick to point out that because the offering is currently still in beta, ”some of the features have not been articulated and it remains to be seen whether the Suite lives up to [its] promise.”

At the same time, Lerner allows, “The Enterprise Web Suite can be seen as a culmination of the company’s Enterprise Web strategy, offering Plumtree a way to position itself more broadly as a single-vendor solutions provider.”

Plumtree Enterprise Suite is now in beta; it will be available later this year.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.