Users are not heeding analysts' warnings about Microsoft's SQL Server 7.0 in their rush to adopt the long-awaited release of the relational database.
Beta testers base their support for SQL Servers on its promised scalability and cheap online analytical processing (Olap) add-ons, but analysts question the stability and high upgrade costs.
One user prepared to put its faith in version 7.0 is Parcelforce. It is evaluating SQL Server 7.0 as the foundation for its Internet parcel tracking service.
IT consultant Paul Watkinson said the database will have 7,000 users. He believes a major benefit of version 7.0 is its support for a fast encryption application.
Text strings in SQL Server 7.0, which identify who has sent a message and who will receive it, are longer which means encrypted messages do not need to be opened for verification - as happens with version 6.5.
Users have also been tempted by the prospect of a cheaper data warehouse platform. Surrey Police director of information Phill Scratchings said any upgrade costs would be negated because users would not have to buy expensive tools from traditional database vendors.
Version 7.0 also supports Olap via its multidimensional engine Plato, which allows users to analyse data and create reports without third-party software. Scratchings said this will enable him to build an affordable crime data warehouse.
Giga Information Group analyst Merv Adrian warned that the new 7.0 features ?come at a significant cost in upgrade efforts?. To defuse such criticism Microsoft released a wizard to help users upgrade from version 6.5.
Concerns over scalability have also been raised. Despite Microsoft's promise to support up to eight-terabit databases, a web site based on a beta version of the databases crashed earlier this year when it received 50 million hits. Microsoft blamed the Internet connection for the crash.
Ovum consultant David Wells said Olap support will take SQL Server out of the department and make it a corporate tool and force other vendors to cut prices of their own Olap products.
SQL Server 7.0 Vital Statistics
* Support for data warehousing with: Plato - multidimensional engine that supports Olap
* Reduced footprint - Microsoft is aiming at 30Mbytes and 4Mbytes Ram
* Re-engineered data optomiser to support larger databases
* Will run under Windows 98 and 95
* Object linking and embedding (OLE) - native support for different data types
* Supports Microsoft Cluster Server
* Version 7.0 can run on a laptop
Gavin Clarke is a reporter on Computing
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