Microsoft last week attempted to kill as a myth claims that Windows NT cannot scale.
At its first ever Scalability Day, Microsoft demonstrated a host of real-world applications to show that NT really can scale. The event, which took place in New York and was broadcast worldwide via satellite and the Internet, was attended by journalists, users and analysts, as well as major hardware and software makers.
As previously reported in PC Week, a key focus of the day was SQL Server.
Chairman Bill Gates kicked off the show with a demo of Terra-Server, a real-world database developed in SQL Server by Microsoft with the help of the Russian Space Agency and United States Geological Survey.
The database holds satellite pictures of the urban world and is claimed to be the world's largest single NT node. Microsoft plans to make Terra-Server available as an application on the Internet in October.
Using a web front-end to the database, Microsoft showed how a user could search for a location (for example the Vatican) and then zoom in on an area. In the demonstration, objects two metres square or larger were visible from the satellite photography.
According to Microsoft, the database holds over 50 million records holding geospacial information such as date, latitude and longitude. It is connected to Internet Information Server via ODBC. Using a Java control, running on a Digital Proxis ZX Pentium Pro server, Microsoft provides users with access to its Encarta World Atlas map library. The front-end web application uses an index of place names from Microsoft's Encarta World Atlas.
For the demo, Terra-Server ran on a Digital Alpha 4100 server, configured with four Alpha processors, 2Gb of memory and 1.3Tb of hard disk array.
Curiously, the database used the next version of SQL Server, codenamed Sphinx, rather than the current 6.5 release.
Commenting on the significance of Microsoft's move into the land of huge databases, Gates reflected on the early days of Microsoft. "Early in my career, databases of 100Kb were (considered) large," he recalled.
During the presentation, he pinpointed Sun as a competitor at the high end. "Our software and R & D investment is four times the amount Sun spends on Solaris," claimed Gates, adding that the commodity NT platform will beat Sun in terms of price/performance.
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