Microsoft Strikes Back with New Benchmarks

FRAMINGHAM (07/27/2000) - After suffering an embarrassing setback earlier this month when record TPC-C benchmark results for its upcoming SQL Server 2000 database were canceled by the Transaction Processing Council (TPC), Microsoft Corp. struck back today with new benchmarks that it said are slightly better than the earlier ones.

During a day-long briefing for analysts at Microsoft's headquarters, the company also said that it will release SQL Server 2000 to manufacturing next week. Shipments to users are expected to follow shortly afterward.

Microsoft's first SQL Server 2000 benchmarks were published in February and figured highly in the company's marketing activities surrounding the launch of its Windows 2000 operating system upgrade. But the numbers were removed from the TPC's official records after being challenged by an undisclosed database rival. TPC officials said the benchmarks were found to be "noncompliant" with the council's policies because the configuration tested by Microsoft didn't allow for the primary key of a distributed database to be updated.

Microsoft has now rerun the TPC-C benchmarks after modifying SQL Server 2000 to support primary-key updating. According to results posted on the TPC's Web site, SQL Server 2000 now occupies the second through fifth spots on the TPC-C performance list. Microsoft trails only IBM's DB2 database, and its new benchmarks moved Oracle Corp.'s Oracle 8i database out of the top five; the Oracle 8i is now in seventh place on the TPC's list.

But Mark Shainman, an analyst at Meta Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said the TPC-C results are more about bragging rights than about providing an accurate measure of how well a database will perform for corporate users.

The benchmark test "is not really a great measure of true database performance in real-world applications," Shainman said. One of the problems with the performance numbers for SQL Server 2000, he added, is that real applications would involve much more data being shipped between the nodes of the server cluster used by Microsoft -- an activity that Shainman said would likely slow the database's throughput.

On an overall basis, SQL Server 2000 "doesn't quite close the gap with Oracle 8i and DB2, but it's getting there," said Teri Palanca, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. The new TPC-C numbers will need to be lined up against real-world results after SQL Server 2000 ships, but they may help convince users that Microsoft has solved some of the scalability problems that affected earlier versions of the database, Palanca said.

The new benchmarks -- which measure database performance in transaction processing applications -- were all done on clusters of Compaq Computer Corp.

ProLiant servers running Windows 2000. The fastest was obtained with twelve eight-processor ProLiant 8500 servers that were equipped with 700-MHz Pentium III Xeon processors, Microsoft said.

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