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Microsoft Offers 'Appliance-Like' Data Warehouses

Microsoft has teamed with Bull, Dell, and HP to offer appliance-like data warehouses starting at $13,000 per terabyte.
Microsoft has worked with three hardware vendors to develop a set of configurations that it says will provide customers with a faster, less expensive path to creating data warehouses.

Announced Monday, the SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse configurations were developed using knowledge Microsoft gained from its acquisition last July of Datallegro, said group product manager Herain Oberoi. The offering includes the availability of preconfigured hardware from Bull, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard, and is designed to let customers build data warehouses for as little as $13,000 per terabyte.

The preconfigured hardware represents a significant step toward Microsoft's plans, announced in October, to offer a data warehouse appliance platform, code-named "Madison," in 2010. Oberoi said the configurations announced Monday are intended to provide an "appliance-like experience," and are part of a longer-term road map.

Hardware vendors will offer seven configurations, or "reference architectures," Oberoi said: three from HP, two from Dell, and two from Bull, designed for data warehouses ranging from 4 TB to 32 TB. Microsoft has partnered with systems integrators Avanade, Cognizant, HP, and Hitachi Consulting to provide industry-specific customizations for data warehouses.

Data warehouses built on these hardware/software platforms will scale up to 32 TB and will fit into Microsoft's vision for Madison, which is to create data warehouses that can "scale out" to hundreds of terabytes, adding more server boxes as needed.

Teradata, Oracle, and IBM outrank Microsoft in leadership of the data warehouse market, according to a December report by Gartner, but Microsoft has made good strides in recent years by offering good value for the prices customers pay, Gartner said. "The acquisition of Datallegro has added skilled personnel in data warehousing -- particularly in marketing large data warehouse solutions -- as well as augmenting Microsoft's field sales and support staff," according to the report.

The Datallegro acquisition has helped Microsoft realize the benefits of sequential I/O and develop a better balance between memory CPU and storage, so Microsoft can offer more powerful appliance-like systems at a lower cost, Oberoi said.


What are other ways companies are improving data warehouses? InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).