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Microsoft Launches SQL Server Database For Workgroups

Microsoft also provides details of the SQL Server 2005 Yukon line of database software due this summer.
Microsoft Thursday added a new Workgroup Edition to its SQL Server 2000 database product line and unveiled feature and pricing details for SQL Server 2005, the next generation of the database software that's due sometime this summer.

SQL Server 2000 Workgroup Edition expands the SQL Server line, providing an entry-level product to the current Standard and Enterprise editions of the database. Desktop Engine, the fourth member of the product line, is a free, small-scale database that developers use to build and deploy simple applications.

"Customers wanted an entry-level edition that was easily upgradeable to Enterprise Edition," says Tom Rizzo, director of product management for SQL Server.

Workgroup Edition is designed to run on one- or two-processor servers but won't be able to take advantage of four-way servers, Rizzo says. The Workgroup Edition also will be restricted to using 2 Gbytes of RAM, although databases of unlimited size may be built with it, he adds.

Workgroup Edition will carry a price tag of $739 per server with a minimum of five users at an additional $140 each. Microsoft also offers a pricing option of $3,899 per processor for customers that want to support many users on more powerful servers.

As competition increases in the maturing database market, Workgroup Edition gives Microsoft another way to appeal to small and midsize businesses. Microsoft includes with Workgroup Edition the same management tools it offers with the Standard and Enterprise editions, allowing small organizations to have systems with high availability and protections against data loss.

The SQL Server 2000 version of Workgroup Edition will have a fairly short lifespan, however, given that it and the rest of the SQL Server line will be upgraded to SQL Server 2005, widely known as Yukon, later this year.

SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition will expand the amount of memory it can support to 3 Gbytes and will include a "backup log-shipping" feature for automated data recovery. The feature continuously maintains a copy of a database log on a backup database, without the customer having to pay a license for an unused or "passive" SQL Server database kept on standby. In the event of a failure of the main database server, the backup server can quickly take over for the failed system using the backup log.

Rizzo says the feature is aimed Oracle and IBM DB2, Microsoft's database competition. In similar backup system configurations, according to Rizzo, Oracle and IBM charge for a second database license for the standby system, even though it sits unused in a passive mode most of the time. Pricing for the new Workgroup Edition will be the same as the 2000 version.

SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition will gain the ability to run on any amount of random access memory and will sport new reporting capabilities that let users extract reports out of the database. Pricing will be $5,999 per processor or $2,799 per server with a minimum of 10 users at $140 each.

SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition will gain unlimited scalability. It can run on systems with as many as 64 processors, such as the Unisys ES 7000 server, Rizzo says. Enterprise Edition will also be able to run as a mirrored system, which allows an immediate failover to a backup system if the database server goes down.

Enterprise Edition also will have the ability to capture snapshots of the database's content at regular intervals, which allows database administrators to recover earlier states of a database in the event of problems. Enterprise Edition also will have increased reporting capabilities with a new Report Builder facility. Pricing will be $24,999 per processor or $13,499 per server with a minimum of 25 users at $140 each.

The low-end Desktop Engine database will be renamed SQL Server 2005 Express Edition. That version will get a new simple management tool and a report wizard for generating basic reports. That database will continue to be free.

Thursday, Microsoft also disclosed that it has struck a deal with Dell to resell SQL Server Workgroup Edition. Dell has already proven to be one of Microsoft's largest resellers of the Standard Edition, Rizzo says, and may rapidly expand the market for Workgroup Edition.