A site Microsoft launched last week to showcase the scalability and performance of its forthcoming SQL Server software broke down under the strain of people accessing it.
Terraserver, an online database of satellite imagery, was launched last week in the US and yesterday in the UK. Microsoft claims it is the largest online database in the world, at 1.2Tb, but business information firms Lexis-Nexis and Dialog have 4Tb and 9Tb online databases respectively.
The Terraserver site uses a Beta 3 version of SQL Server 7.0, due later this year, Windows NT 4.0 Enterprise and Site Server Commerce Edition.
Users can search for specific sites across the globe, or browse a map and zoom in on areas of interest. Photography is provided by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and SPIN-2, a joint US-Russian venture to market declassified satellite imagery. Prints of the final maps are available for a fee, although Microsoft makes no money from the site.
However, by Thursday, the Web servers running the site started to fail, returning "HTTP 403.9" errors, meaning that too many users were connected.
The database was also taxed, with "file not found" errors appearing and messages stating that the database was "temporarily unavailable".
Karen Green, SQL Server product manager in the UK, said: "The point was to stress-test SQL Server under Terabyte conditions. We are using beta software to run it. Beta software is always tested by customers and developers on our behalf."
She added that the software had already been in beta for 12 months, and "for all intents and purposes (is) a final beta".
Green claimed that the inaccessibility of the site was due to the Internet software rather than the database. "It has nothing to do with the amount of data, but the (number of) Internet connections. We're learning a lot from it," she said.
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