The Database Market Heats Up...

by Mark Trescowthick - GUI Computing

Microsoft are sure being aggressive in their push for SQL Server 6. And they're not alone - both Oracle and Sybase are replying in kind. In fact, the past month or two have seen claim and counter-claim flying.

Sybase, for example, have just released their new TPC-C performance and price performance results for the HP platform. A rate of 5621.07 tpmC and $390 per/tpmC with Sybase SQL Server 11 on a 12-way symmetric multiprocessor HP 9000 is no dusty performance, either.

But then, neither is Oracle 7's 9414 tpmC and $316 per tpmC on Digital's 64-bit UNIX and Alpha hardware with 8 processors. And Microsoft weighs in with a SQL Server result of 2454.97 tpmC and $241.64 per tpmC on a 4 processor SMP Compaq - which they claim is the best for any hardware combo under $1m.

What does all this benchmarking gone mad really mean?

Well, I'm no TPC-C expert, but one thing is pretty clear : as developers we now have some serious alternatives in Client/Server and we can be pretty sure that whatever back end database we choose can handle the pace and stress of serious transaction processing.

Meanwhile, Oracle and MS in particular are slugging it out on features, with a series of papers and press releases from both claiming this, that and the other.

That's no surprise, really - for the first time, SQL Server is outselling Oracle, at least in the USA, and is also rated about as popular as a 'strategic choice'... whatever that might mean.

Perhaps the only thing holding SQL Server 6 back is its continuing lack of row-level locking - though Microsoft persistently claim that it would not dramatically change performance and that this omission is "By Design". That may well be, but it's surely the database's job to handle such low-level requirements, even if only on an optional basis. I can't believe MS will be able to hold out on this front much longer.

Our experience? Select whatever database your client feels best suits their needs. All three have strengths and weaknesses.

But whatever you do, have a long look around... with all this competition I'd expect prices to be the next point of conflict!

Written by: Mark Trescowthick
Oct 95