Microsoft Inches Closer to Yukon

The road to Microsoft’s next generation SQL Server database software (code named “Yukon”) is smoothing out with the release of some beta testing samples.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software behemoth Wednesday released SQL Server 2000 beta 2 for 64-bit machines and SQL Server 2000 SP3 beta 1 for public testing. The 64-bit version should shipping in April. The SP3 is due out by the end of the year. Yukon beta 1.0 is due out early next year.

The SQL Server 2000 beta is the first time that Microsoft is addressing the 64-bit server issue. The new software is designed specifically for Intel Itanium 64-bit machines and Windows .NET Server platform. Previously, Microsoft had only designed the database software for 32-bit machines.

“Where we are seeing customer interest in 64-bit is in server consolidation scenarios and data warehousing projects.” Microsoft Product manager for SQL Server Sheryl Tullis told “We support clustering up to 4 nodes in current SQL Server 2000 and 8 nodes coming up in Yukon.”

Tullis said Yukon will support both 32-bit and 64-bit servers.

“The focus of SQL Server is really scaling up and business intelligence,” said Tullis. “What we are trying to do is that as the hardware availability grows, the software can keep up. Ninety-nine percent of our customers want to scale up instead of scaling out like Oracle’s RAC on Linux or IBM’s DB2.”

But while SQL Server is one of Microsoft’s most popular server products, critics point out its many flaws. And while Microsoft says it updates its users regularly on Wednesdays, the SQL Server 2000 SP3 will include all previous patches found in service packs 1 and 2 as well as some new tools like Watson reporting for Windows.

“The Windows team found that 80 percent of software errors are caused by the same 10 or 12 bugs,” said Tullis. “So what we are trying to do is apply that instant response reporting to the database. If there is something critical, then we can apply a hot fix. It’s really part of a big community push to address the security issues and make it secure by default.”

Microsoft SQL Server has come a long way from its early beginnings on the Windows NT platform. The company is priding itself on building the database software in less time than the competition. In 1993, 2,000 corporate sites were engaged in beta testing of SQL Server 1.0. Today, Microsoft claims 40 percent of the relational database management systems on the Windows platform run SQL Server.

The software package now includes SQL Server Web Services Toolkit, SQL Server Notification Services, SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition 2.0, and the SQL Server Accelerator for Business Intelligence.

But while chairman Bill Gates has toted Yukon at the unified storage architecture foundation for future products in the Microsoft .NET Enterprise Server family and the “Longhorn” wave of products, Yukon is not holding up any of Longhorn’s production issues.

Longhorn is the code-name for the next major release of Windows, which Gates said “promises the greatest breakthroughs to date for information workers.” He noted that Longhorn will see applications, operating systems and Web services tightly integrated in how they store, present and manipulate data.

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