’s Alicia Costanza recently caught up
with Paul Flessner -- senior vice president for Microsoft’s .NET enterprise
server division -- at the PASS SQL Server
conference in San Francisco for an exclusive interview. Flessner, who
drove development of SQL Server and was closely involved with the benchmarking
efforts, spoke about some of Microsoft’s recent announcements and how the
company is responding to growing competition in the database market.
For more of
Flessner’s interview and commentary on Microsoft’s latest TPC-C benchmark
numbers, please see the December 13 print edition of ENT or follow the
links at the bottom of this page.
regard to the SQL Server 2000 for Windows CE announcement made at PASS, why the
move to a hand held model?
That’s a good question. It’s been part … It’s about developing an application
that they can deploy across the broadest reach of the enterprise. The focus a
lot of times is on the high-end data center and the big database but the
reality is that there are plenty fewer of those applications than -- even
though they are high visibility -- than there are applications that run in
regional offices, All across the country those small regional offices. But the
cool thing now is the reach out all ways with the device. We were talking about
what are the types of applications, well claims adjusters out at an auto
accident with their CE’s the ability to really estimate on the spot with some
confidence and accuracy what are the damages to your car. Or we’ve all gone
through the frustration of dealing with real estate agents where they’re
downloading this and that and running around with those papers trying to figure
out what the available housing market looks like for the parameters that you’re
interested in. we really want customers to know that they can leverage their
developer experience in SQL Server and have the broadest possible reach of the
market. If you know SQL and you know ADL in our programming APIs you can write
the TerraServer application with multiple terabytes of data or you can write
the Windows CE application and have a hand-held device experience. So it’s
really maximizing the reach of ISVs or our software development partners.
ENT: How does SQL Server 2000 compare with
Oracle 9i, especially in terms of functionality and scalability?
Flessner: There wasn’t much in 9i in terms of reach down,
they tried to do this ploy out across the Internet and talk a lot about caching
and those types of things, but from a database perspective, honestly I didn’t
see that much new. I was a little underwhelmed with the news. It’s also a
product that’s not out.
ENT: What about
Flessner: There are several vendors in this space. Sybase
has got a product, I think the leading product in this space, Oracle has had a
product, but it’s really not used much by customers and db2 kind of in the game
as well. I think the differentiation from our product is that: one, it’s a very
continuous experience with the server, and that’s the most important thing,
quite honestly. The other products, Sybase isn’t really any where in the server
business anymore so it’s not that interesting from that perspective. And the Oracle and db2 products really
aren’t very continuous with their server product. So I think our advantage is
that we do have this very continuous experience. And we are well-positioned in
the market place because I think the rich disconnected or occasionally connected
allocations are just about to come on the horizon with the new standards coming
out with cellular modems getting the digital standard and increasing the
through-put or transmission speed of data download devices, and we’re very
excited about that.
About the move last year to change licensing to per-processor, how will that
affect MS’s cost benefit with respect to Oracle and other vendors?
Flessner: It’s not so much with respect to Oracle, it was
more of what the customer was looking for. The way this CAL model worked great
inside the firewall for a long time, and still is very economical in certain
situations. But then the Internet came along and we introduced the Internet
connector, and the Internet connector only worked outside the firewall and didn’t
work inside the firewall, the whole thing got a little too confusing so we kind
of backed off and said there’s two ways to license -- you can buy CAL and keep
that model in tact, or you can by per processor and get unlimited access based
on how many processors you need. And that model works outside the firewall or
inside the firewall. So we reserved the CAL model for those customers today
have it, need it, but we introduced a new model that can be used inside or
outside the firewall that we think is very simple, there’s no power unit
calculations. If I have a four-proc today and it’s 500 mHz and I buy another
4-proc that’s 800 mHz, I don’t have to come back and pay MS any more money,
there’s none of that. But, what’s fair is if you have more demand on your
server and you’re going to introduce more processors, and you’re going to
service more customers then we need to collect more revenue on that. I think
it’s a very fair model, the customer and analyst feedback has been very
positive. It’s simpler for customers to understand.
There’s been a lot of talk about major licensing changes with .NET. What kinds
of changes are on the table for the enterprise server licensing changes and
what kind of timetable are we talking about?
Flessner: All the products have standard and enterprise
editions with all the products that make sense on it, and you’re going to see a
CAL model and a per CPU model. And I think we want to keep it almost that
simple to make sure customers understand how to buy our products. The feedback
we were getting before was that it was just too complex.
What kind of movement have you seen on Microsoft’s market share in databases
versus Oracle and IBM on the Windows Server platform?
Flessner: There’s no doubt we’re gaining share. And you have
to look at share in two ways. In unit share and revenue share. Revenue, we go
in the market, many times at half the price, or less than Oracle. So Oracle
talks about revenue share which they’ve enjoyed a slight advantage in, but in
terms of unit share, some of our numbers project us at almost 70 percent unit
share, and only about 40 percent revenue share. So that goes to the fact that
competitors charge more. But in terms of, do we believe that we are the leader
among customers using a database on Windows, there’s no question. We believe we
are without question the leader in that space. And we’re continuing to take
share, mostly from Oracle. IBM is being a little more aggressive and I think
they’re winning some share too, probably from Sybase, and some of the lower end
of the market. There’s no question we’re taking share today.
SQL Server has been a major target for both IBM and Oracle in the database
market, can you comment on that?
Flessner: Yeah, without question, and I don’t think that
will change. I think competition is alive and well here. But not only is the
battle I think today has expanded from just Windows. Windows is starting to eat into the margins of the high end Unix
vendors now, and that’s kind of the exciting part. As the Windows market
expands, SQL Server’s opportunity to expand obviously increases and we continue
to take share on Windows but the more exciting thing is that Windows is taking
share from Unix and that’s just expanding the market for us.
For more with Paul Flessner, please check out part of the interview that ran in our print book: http://www.entmag.com/displayarticle.asp?ID=12130083730AM
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