Microsoft re-tests database

Microsoft on Thursday released benchmark numbers that put its SQL Server database back into the top five best performing databases. But this time around, despite hardware and software improvements, Microsoft didn't capture the top spot.

In the four weeks since the TPC (Transaction Processing Performance Council) in San Jose, Calif., forced Microsoft to withdraw its numbers, the company has been working with Compaq Computer in Houston, Texas to retest its configurations so that the results will be acceptable to the council.

In the highest of the new numbers, SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition achieved 262,243 transactions per minute on a federated cluster of 12 ProLiant 8500 servers. That beats the record that Microsoft and Compaq set last February by 15 percent. SQL Server 2000 is to be released to manufacturing next week and ship within two months afterward.

But Microsoft's number is still far behind Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM's recent record of 440,879, of the DB2 database running on Windows 2000 servers.

Oracle, in Redwood Shares, Calif., for its part, has been silent on the database benchmarking front for several months, at least since Microsoft's original results in February.

"We are not planning to do any TPC benchmarking in the near future," said Robert Shimp, Oracle's senior director of platform marketing. "We just don't see the value in it for our customers."

But Jeff Jones, IBM's senior program manager, data management solutions, points out that there are advantages to participating in the TPC benchmarks for both customers and vendors.

"The benchmarks get our labs to really stress test and push the software to limits we wouldn't normally push it to, and that makes the product better," he said. "But no vendors should recommend that customers buy based on benchmarks."

Microsoft and Compaq used clusters of eight and twelve Compaq ProLiant 8500 database servers. Each server had eight Intel Pentium III Xeon 700MHz or 550MHz processors and 8GB of memory. In addition, the measured systems included 24 to 36 application servers running Microsoft's Internet Information Server.

New to the most recent configuration are the 700MHz processors and ServerNet II system area networking software as the high-speed interconnect between the database servers in this round of testing.

The results come after the record-breaking numbers Microsoft boasted at the February 17 launch of Windows 2000 were disqualified on June 29 because SQL Server lacked the primary key update capability. This functionality allows updates to a table's primary key columns, which are the columns that define the unique identifier for each row in a table.

According to Jeff Ressler, Microsoft's SQL Server product manager, the database's Distributed Partition Views function couldn't conduct the necessary key update in Microsoft's prior testing.

Microsoft's results are based on Windows 2000 and SQL Server 2000, which the company says will be generally available toward the end of the summer.

Microsoft also said Thursday that it expects fiscal year 2001 to be a billion-dollar year for SQL Server.

Tom Sullivan is an Infoworld senior writer.

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