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Microsoft Reveals SQL Server Pricing, Packages

Microsoft announced final features and pricing for its forthcoming SQL Server 2005 database, including a new edition of software priced between the developer and standard versions.

The software giant also deepened its partnership with Dell, inking a formal original equipment manufacturers (OEM) agreement with the systems vendor to provide customers better support.

Tom Rizzo, director of product management for SQL Server, said the news is the start of a busy few months for Microsoft as it speeds towards a summer release of SQL Server 2005.

Microsoft is announcing pricing and features in advance to help customers who buy software assurance licenses renew their contracts, Rizzo said. A lot of customers are renewing in the next couple of months, so the Redmond, Wash., concern wants to let users know what's on the menu for the summer.

The company has added a Workgroup edition for SQL Server 2000 and in the pending SQL Server 2005 line to sit between Microsoft's developer and standard editions.

"Small and medium businesses really want a low-cost, entry-level offering that was between an MSDE [Microsoft Desktop Engine] and Standard Edition," Rizzo said.

SQL Server 2000 Workgroup Edition will support 2 CPUs and 2 gigabytes of random access memory (RAM) for an unlimited database size. At $3,899 per processor or $739 per server, the software will feature all of the management tools associated with SQL Server.

SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition will be available with the rest of the SQL Server 2005 suites this summer for the same price as the 2000 version. However, this product will have 3 GB of RAM, along with import/export, limited replication publishing and back-up log-shipping, which Rizzo said helps customers get a "warm standby server for disaster recovery."

The free Express Edition, which replaces the Microsoft Desktop Engine, is ideal for partners looking to poke around SQL Server 2005. It will have 1 CPU and 1 GB RAM for a database of 4 GB. The Standard Edition will include 4 CPUs, unlimited RAM, database mirroring and reporting server for $5,999 per processor, or $2,799 per server.

Built for heavy lifting applications, SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition will boast unlimited scale and partitioning, advanced database mirroring, database snapshot and a report builder tool integrated from last year's acquisition of Active Views, Rizzo said.

Microsoft is confident it will be able to offer functionality and performance comparable to database software from rival products Oracle 10g and IBM DB2 at a lower cost, he added. For example, he said Microsoft won't charge for multi-core architectures, which means customers pay per processor socket instead of per chip.

Oracle and IBM charge per processor. Microsoft anticipates multi-core architectures will become more mainstream, effectively doubling the per-processor pricing of database products from Oracle and IBM.

Moreover, Rizzo said Oracle and IBM force customers to buy costly add-ons for management, high availability and business intelligence.

In related Microsoft database news, Dell, already the top reseller of SQL Server 2000, will resell SQL Server 2000 Workgroup Edition, SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition and SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition along with its PowerEdge servers.

Dell will also offer front-line customer support for Microsoft software and will embark on a sales and marketing initiative.