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Microsoft Details Support for SQL Server 7.0

Two weeks before the Comdex launch of SQL Server 7.0, Microsoft laid out the extent of channel and partner training and support for the upgrade to its flagship RDBMS.

"We don’t believe that there has been anything at this scale ever done in terms of channel readiness for any relational database product to this point," Sam Jadallah, vice president of Microsoft’s organization customer unit, said during the news conference Tuesday. "It’s not since Exchange release 5 or NT release 3.5 that we’ve seen such interest in a BackOffice-related product."

Microsoft’s major struggle with SQL Server 7.0 will be to convince IT professionals that the RDBMS is sufficiently hardcore to handle enterprisewide projects. To address that concern, Microsoft's general manager for enterprise partnerships, Ian Rogoff ticked off the names of large systems integrators that have entered agreements to bring systems using SQL Server 7.0 to market. Among the names were Amdahl Corp., Arthur Anderson L.L.P., Cambridge Technology Partners, Compaq Services, Computer Sciences Corp., Data General Corp., Electronic Data Systems Corp., Ernst & Young, ICL Retail Systems, KPMG Peat Marwick L.L.P., NCR Corp. and Unisys Corp.

In all, Jadallah says, there are 150 new partners for SQL Server 7.0 that had previously considered themselves too high end to deal with SQL Server.

Microsoft plans to spend $20 million this year to train an estimated 50,000 people on SQL Server 7.0 and the company has shipped 100,000 beta versions of the product, Jadallah said. Aside from several thousand channel and partner trainees, training has focused on three classes of administrators, Jadallah said. The first group consists of database administrators (DBAs) currently running SQL Server 6 or 6.5; the second group, DBAs running competing systems such as Oracle or DB2; and the third group, Windows NT administrators. In explaining the reasoning behind training Windows NT administrators, Jadallah said: "This allows us to address a very big challenge, that our channels and partners have told us that there are not enough DBAs in the world."

Jim Ewel, director of SQL Server marketing for Microsoft, summed up the announcement more bluntly than Jadallah had. "One of the points of this announcement is that we didn’t just start two weeks before launching this product to make sure that our channel was trained. We started well over a year ago, and we’ve trained people in depth on this product."

Meanwhile, as RDBMS competitors such as Oracle Corp. and Informix Corp. announce versions for the free Linux operating system, Ewel affirmed that Microsoft would be concentrating all SQL Server development and optimization efforts on Microsoft’s Windows NT platform. "We have no plans to port to Linux," Ewel said. --Scott Bekker, Staff Reporter

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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