Data warehouse suite stakes

In 1998, database management system vendors announced products that let you crunch more data, faster, yawn ... Wait a minute, they actually did something different, too. Their data warehousing tool suites opened some eyes.

"This was the year it finally happened. The important part of these is that they're integrated with the vendors' management tools. So, the basics are there to build, manage and query a data warehouse," says Bob Craig, an analyst at Hurwitz Group in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Most of the major DBMS vendors have refreshed their core products in the past year or so. The most recent developments were the fall announcements of Microsoft's SQL Server 7 and Oracle's Oracle8i.

SQL Server 7, scheduled for general availability by the end of last month, was pitched as a key step in moving Microsoft's database product beyond the workgroup and department level and into the enterprise level.

It features increased capacity, row-level locking, new management tools and online analytical processing capabilities, which may help to position it for data warehousing uses.

Oracle is promoting Oracle8i as an Internet-oriented database, making greater use of technologies such as Internet programming language HTML and a database-resident Java virtual machine. It too was due for shipping by year's end.

Warehouse? (There house)

However, Craig sees the improvement and integration of data warehousing tools as key developments in the market. He says the offering of integrated suites of tested warehousing tools will help user organisations get over a major hurdle in implementing data warehouses. "In the past, you had to go to different vendors. If you were building a data warehouse, you were the integrator or you had to hire an integrator," he notes.

This year, don't look for major releases of the core database engines, Craig says. However, he says information technology managers should watch for developments in the growing vendor and user support for meta data at the enterprise level, giving managers a more integrated look at data across varied applications.

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