SQL Server performance announcements have been coming in so fast and furiously that it seems all I do these days is write about how amazing the newest benchmark numbers are. In a way, it gets a little boring heralding SQL Server's latest and greatest performance accomplishments every other week. But at least my feet will be super-clean from spending so much time on my favorite soapbox!

Two weeks ago, Microsoft published TPC-H numbers for the first time. Without diving too deep, TPC-H is a data-warehousing benchmark. A system with Informix on a 12-way Sun Microsystems server holds the world’s best TPC-H result to date. SQL Server's performance is almost 90 percent as fast on an 8-way Intel box and is less than one-third the cost of the Sun/Informix combo. On top of that, the SQL Server system achieved that performance with beta versions of Shiloh (the next version of SQL Server) and Windows 2000 Datacenter (Win2K Datacenter). Imagine how fast the numbers will be after Microsoft cleans up Shiloh for shipping.

This week and next week, I’ve invited two guest contributors to share their experiences of the COMPASS ’99 and SQL DevCon conferences, which ended earlier this month. Next week, Mike Yocca will describe his experiences at SQL DevCon. And here’s a summary from Ron Talmage about COMPASS ’99:

The Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS) established COMPASS ’99 Conference, which had more than 1200 attendees, as the definitive national SQL Server conference for this year. Sessions began on Thursday morning, September 30, with a keynote address by Paul Flessner, general manager of the SQL Server group at Microsoft. The conference ended Saturday afternoon with a keynote by Jim Gray, senior researcher at Microsoft and the 1998 ACM Turing Award winner.

In his keynote, Paul Flessner extolled the virtues of SQL Server 7.0 and outlined some of the projected improvements for Shiloh. Among the new features he mentioned were referential actions (cascade updates and deletes in declarative referential integrity—DRI), an Extensible Markup Language (XML) interface, materialized views, exploitation of Win2K including 4-node clusters, multiple instances of SQL Server on one server, data-mining enhancements, and a Windows CE version of SQL Server.

Attendees chose from more than 75 sessions in five tracks. For more information about the conference, see http://www.sqlpass.org/events/index.cfm.

The conference came to a close with the keynote by Jim Gray, who presented a substantial set of slides (more than he could cover in the time allotted) about research Microsoft is conducting on several database-related issues. He projected that in just a few years, a terabyte of disk space will be available for less than $10,000. He drew attention to the possible ways that database servers will become more powerful as technology advances. And, he offered his view that cloned, inexpensive PCs, arranged in packs of partitioned servers, will make up future server farms. In other words, we’ll likely conquer the mass of future data by using multinode clustering of inexpensive machines. You can download the PowerPoint slides for his talk at http://www.research.microsoft.com/~Gray/talks/DEFAULT.htm.

PASS will hold a European conference March 12-15, 2000, at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. The next North American PASS conference will be in San Francisco in Fall 2000.

—Ron Talmage