SQL Server 2005 Amid DBMS Market Dynamics
Microsoft positions its DBMS for the next wave of competitors.
by Peter O'Kelly
November 17, 2004
Last month's Trends & Analysis column provided an overview of database management system (DBMS) trends and the reasons why DBMSs have a resurgent and expanding role in the broader application platform landscape. This month's column assesses Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 product line, in terms of both how Microsoft is addressing DBMS trends and how Microsoft is poised to compete with IBM, Oracle, and open source DBMS initiatives.
SQL Server 2005 is a major Microsoft milestone in many respects. To establish context for understanding its significance within the Windows Server System and the rest of Microsoft's product line, I'll start with a brief historical recap of SQL Server's evolution. An overview of some of the most important new features in SQL Server 2005 follows next, and the column concludes with a competitive landscape assessment and market projections.
SQL Server Evolution
Microsoft entered the DBMS market during the late 1980s in part to respond to IBM OS/2 Extended Edition, a version of the then-IBM/Microsoft partnership-created and ultimately ill-fated OS/2 platform that included, among other things, a full version of DB2. Microsoft sought to offer a similar extended version of OS/2, so it partnered with Sybase to create Microsoft SQL Server, which first appeared on OS/2.
The first Windows version of SQL Server was released in 1992, by which time OS/2 was, to Microsoft, a competitive platform rather than a joint endeavor with IBM. Microsoft couldn't remain strategically dependent on Sybase (which was at that time one of the top Unix DBMS vendors), so it purchased a copy of the Sybase source code in 1993 and terminated the joint development relationship. Microsoft then recruited a team of DBMS experts including Jim Gray (who previously pioneered DBMS and transaction processing products at IBM, Tandem, and Digital), James Hamilton (previously the lead architect for the cross-platform version of IBM DB2), Peter Spiro (who previously led Digital's database systems group), and many other DBMS industry luminaries. In much the same way that Microsoft had assembled and chartered the Windows NT operating system team several years earlier, Microsoft's SQL Server architects were given the mandate to create a new, category-leading product.
Microsoft SQL Server 7.0, released in November 1998, was the first release of SQL Server that wasn't based on Sybase source code. It included backward compatibility with earlier releases of SQL Server but was based on a new architecture, with the same shared-nothing (i.e., neither memory nor disk) approach used in cross-platform DB2. SQL Server 7.0 also included a bevy of business intelligence (OLAP) features that shifted the scope of competition in the DBMS market. Following Microsoft's timeline of SQL Server's development, the next major milestone was SQL Server 2000 (released in August 2000; see Resources for a link to a detailed history of SQL Server's first decade on Windows).
As of late 2004, SQL Server is a mature product family that includes server and client DBMS versions along with analysis, notification, and reporting services. SQL Server is successful in the Windows DBMS market, commanding, by most estimates, approximately 50 percent of the market share, with IBM and Oracle the most successful competitors and all other vendors combined representing less than 10 percent of Windows DBMS revenue market share.
SQL Server is also a fundamental element of Windows Server System. It is used by many other Microsoft products, including Application Center, BizTalk Server, Commerce Server, and Content Management Server. Host Integration Server, Microsoft Identity Integration Server, and Live Communications Server also use it, as do Microsoft Operations Manager, Project Server, SharePoint (Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server 2003), Systems Management Server, and several of the Microsoft Business Solutions applications. Elements of SQL Server will be exploited in the future WinFS storage subsystem.
SQL Server 2005
SQL Server's recent history has been a bit problematic, however, as suggested by the five-year gap between SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005 (expected to ship during the first half of 2005). The SQL Server development team continued to add significant value to SQL Server 2000 during recent years, including support for 64-bit platforms and a robust set of reporting tools and services, but the development cycle for SQL Server 2005, originally known by its code name "Yukon," has experienced several significant delays. Some of the delays were similar to delays in the Windows Server 2003 cycle, representing major, unanticipated detours to strengthen system security (especially following the catastrophic Slammer worm in early 2003), but SQL Server 2005's ambitious scope and tight relationships with other Microsoft products have also proven to be more challenging than Microsoft originally estimated. The net result is that SQL Server 2000 had, by late 2004, fallen behind its archrivals IBM DB2 and Oracle Database in some important areas such as XML data model support. [Editor's Note: For updated news on Oracle's support for the .NET developer community, click here.]
Back to top