LAS VEGAS, November 16, 1998 — Microsoft this week announced the availability of Microsoft SQL Server 7.0, the new enterprise database software that empowers businesses to turn information into results. The eagerly anticipated new database software was launched domestically at a gala event led by Steve Ballmer, president of Microsoft, at COMDEX/Fall ’98 in Las Vegas.
The database software will also be launched to more than 30,000 customers and partners in 53 countries around the world over the next 21 days. In addition, more than 300 Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) are demonstrating business applications designed for SQL Server 7.0 at local launch sites, and 13,000 Microsoft Certified Solution Providers (MCSPs) are prepared to support customer development and deployment projects. SQL Server 7.0 is expected to be available in the reseller channel within 45 days.
During his keynote speech, Steve Ballmer announced that 12 customers–including Pennzoil Co., HarperCollins Publishers Inc., Barnesandnoble.com, Elcore, SportsLine USA and L.A. Cellular–are producing enterprise resource planning (ERP), data warehousing and electronic commerce applications for SQL Server 7.0.
SQL Server 7.0 is a defining release for Microsoft’s database products. As the most robust database yet for the Windows family, SQL Server is the Relational Database Management System of choice for a broad spectrum of corporate customers and ISVs building business applications. Microsoft responds to customer needs with SQL Server 7.0 by adding significant product innovations that improve the product’s ease of use, reliability and scalability. Innovations like these are expected to make SQL Server 7.0 a leader in several of the database industry’s fastest growing application categories. These include line of business, electronic commerce, data warehousing and mobile computing.
Line of Business
Building a smoothly functioning enterprise in a competitive business environment requires attention to countless details, including creating custom applications that meet specific business needs. Because databases are an essential part of the application mix, they must be flexible, powerful platforms that fit seamlessly with existing line-of-business applications and provide tools for creating custom software. Whether companies prefer ready-to-install applications or custom applications that fit their particular business needs, SQL Server 7.0 provides a powerful database platform for implementing business applications.
It is ideal for both horizontal applications used by everyone in an enterprise, such as human resources software, and vertical applications used by specific business units, such as process control software for a manufacturing line. In addition, SQL Server 7.0 provides a superior programming platform by automating standard operations to ease the workload on database administrators and by providing sophisticated tools for more complex operations.
“At Southwest, our goal is to leverage technology as a competitive advantage to increase shareholder value,” says Norman Thompson, senior executive vice president and chief information officer for Southwest Securities, Inc.. “The upgrade to SQL Server 7.0 was motivated by the need for an enterprise-level database with the scalability to accommodate our anticipated growth.
“When we first got the news about SQL Server 7.0,” says Thompson, “I was particularly excited to hear that Microsoft had taken some of the finest database architects in the world and said, ‘Take a clean sheet of paper and bring the best-of-breed technology together. You can call it 7.0, but what we really want is a brand new product — one that ensures we’re viewed as an enterprise player.’ ”
During the next several years, Internet-based commerce will undergo phenomenal growth. According to forecasts by independent research groups, electronic commerce will become a $300 billion business by the year 2002, up from $8 billion in 1997. To tap into this burgeoning market, organizations need fast, efficient and highly reliable systems. A critical component will be the database that stores product and customer information and interacts securely with online customers and existing business applications.
SQL Server offers the necessary features for deploying and maintaining powerful, easy-to-manage, commerce-enabled Web sites, either for business-to-business or business-to-consumer transactions. Features ranging from seamless integration with Windows NT Server 4.0 and Microsoft Site Server to dynamic data encryption, which enables users to automatically encrypt data such as passwords, make it an ideal database platform for conducting electronic commerce.
“The tight integration of SQL Server 7.0 with Microsoft Site Server Commerce Edition 3.0 was a big selling point for us,” says Dan Leichtenschlag, vice president of engineering and chief technology officer for SportsLine USA, Inc, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “The common interface and the integration of all the Microsoft products is going to mean a big difference in administration, ease-of-use, and ultimately the total cost of ownership over the long run. We expect to stick with SQL Server and know it will scale with our business.”
SQL Server 7.0 also offers the best price and performance of any Windows NT-based database on the market, and it’s easy to deploy. It offers outstanding manageability, along with the reliability, scalability and security necessary to maintain a dynamic Web commerce site that works well now and can grow to meet future demands.
Features such as these have prompted companies like Dell Computer, 1-800-Flowers, and Barnes and Noble to use SQL Server to conduct commerce on the Web. “Our close partnership with Microsoft helped us implement a scalable and robust commerce site,” says Carmella Cassetta, vice president, engineering and product development, for barnesandnoble.com.
“When we began beta testing 7.0, we saw a more -than 100 percent performance improvement,” says Alan Bourassa, director of systems planning and design for barnesandnoble.com. “The SQL Server 7.0 storage and query engines are superb, currently ahead of Microsoft’s competitors.”
Enterprises today face the challenge of providing employees with access to diverse information sources. If they succeed, they gain many important business benefits, including the ability to make faster and better decisions. To meet this challenge, organizations are integrating, consolidating, and summarizing information from several data sources and making it available for analysis. To do this, they are using data warehouses-central data stores where information is collected, organized and made readily available to users.
Data warehouses help users better understand information and look at it in new ways so they can more easily gain insights, see patterns and trends and make better business decisions. Data warehouses serve the needs of an entire enterprise; in contrast, data marts serve specific business units or functions.
Building on the strengths of SQL Server 6.5, SQL Server 7.0 makes designing, building and managing data warehouses and data marts even easier. It also provides better tools for gathering data from many enterprise sources, building a powerful query environment for using that data, and distributing it across the enterprise-even to mobile users.
With superior management and scalability features, SQL Server 7.0 reduces cost of ownership while providing enormous flexibility in all levels of the enterprise. Integration with Microsoft Office 2000, Microsoft Windows NT, and Microsoft BackOffice enables users to use tools they already know. Most importantly, the interoperability with relational and non-relational data from a variety of sources protects previous technology investments and puts them to greater use.
Says Stuart Mowat, director of decision support systems for HarperCollins, “Right now, we have to write programs on our transaction systems to export data. The Data Transformation Services are going to save us a lot of work. When new data is required for the data warehouse, we will be able to invoke a standard utility rather than having to write unique programs each time.”
Increasingly common scenarios such as telecommuting, traveling sales representatives and branch automation illustrate that mobile computing is becoming more commonplace.. This trend has fueled the growth of the mobile computing software and hardware market. Laptop computer sales reached an all-time high in 1997, with a growth rate that now exceeds that of desktop computers. Mobile computing requirements have created a number of new IT challenges, including offline application usage and automatic data synchronization.
SQL Server 7.0 specifically addresses these mobile computing requirements. It provides scalability from laptop computers to Symmetrical Multiprocessing (SMP) servers, enabling the same application to be deployed on the widest range of options available. The SQL Server desktop edition, which runs on Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98 and Microsoft Windows NT Workstation, is the key for allowing users to take data and applications on the road. The built-in replication options in SQL Server ensure changes to data synchronize automatically between databases.
With new capabilities such as these, SQL Server 7.0 is the ideal choice for supporting increasingly mobile and remote computing environments. With its scalability from the desktop to the enterprise, along with its easy yet powerful replication features, SQL Server 7.0 ensures that important enterprise data remains consistent and accessible to all users.
“SQL Server 7.0 is a major breakthrough for Microsoft database technology,” says Microsoft President Steve Ballmer. “It’s the complete package, delivering scalability, reliability and ease of use companies of all sizes are looking for to meet the needs of their business-critical applications.”