Microsoft looks to unlock door to wider BI use

Strategy will scale up size of data warehouses SQL Server can support and introduce an Excel-based user analytics mashup tool.

At its second annual BI conference, held in Seattle, Microsoft said that a Community Technology Preview (CTP) version of Kilimanjaro and Gemini will become available within a year. Commercial shipments are scheduled to follow in the first half of 2010.

Kilimanjaro is also being designed to support large data warehouses and BI deployments. To help with that, Microsoft detailed another project, code-named Madison, under which it will integrate SQL Server 2008 with technology developed by Datallegro, a data warehousing appliance vendor that Microsoft acquired last month.

Microsoft has plenty of catching up to do with other vendors at the high end of the BI market, Kobielus said. SQL Server typically scales only "into the dozens of terabytes" now, he noted.

The Madison technology will be able to handle workloads involving hundreds of terabytes of data and thousands of users, Microsoft said. The company demonstrated a 150TB database running 24 instances of SQL Server 2008 at the conference. A CTP version is due within 12 months. And Microsoft said it's working with server and storage vendors, including Dell, EMC and Hewlett-Packard, to give users "an appliance-like buying experience."

But even with the addition of Datallegro, Microsoft is well behind rivals such as Teradata Corp. in high-end market share. Curt Monash, an independent database analyst, said that although Datallegro's technology was strong, the appliance vendor had few customers before Microsoft bought it.

Heather Havenstein contributed to this story.

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