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Fast Track to BIG Data

Last week, I attended 2 days of Fast Track Data Warehouse and 3 days of Parallel Data Warehouse training at the Chicago Microsoft Technology Center presented by Jim Carroll, Ross LoForte and John Plummer. It was an intense, thought provoking week, to say the least, with so much information I could not possibly touch on all of it in this one post. Instead, I will provide a high-level summary of the similarities and differences between the two approaches and the new market penetration Microsoft hopes to achieve with these new capabilities.

Fast Track Data Warehouse and Microsoft’s partnership with HP for the Parallel Data Warehouse appliances is a strategic move by Microsoft to penetrate the top tier of the database volume market dominated by competitive vendors such as Teradata, Oracle, IBM, etc. Microsoft has not played in this space before but their future success is encouraging due to their much lower price point. Presently, their largest capacity is 208TB (512TB by end of the year) and their largest implementation is 60TB (a case study to be released mid-summer). The capacity and performance of these approaches coupled with attractive pricing is causing businesses on competing platforms to give Microsoft a second look.

At the most fundamental level, Fast Track Data Warehouse is a descriptive guidance on how to both physically and logically design your data warehouse to achieve optimal load performance. On the other hand, Parallel Data warehouse is an appliance that you purchase where you have pretty much no control over the physical design of the hardware, only the amount of disk space and a couple other options.

Presently, HP is the only hardware supplier with an appliance product. This makes sense since Oracle dropped them for Sun, but other vendors, such as Dell, will be offering comparable appliances in the near future. Further, Microsoft is not stopping at the Parallel Data Warehouse appliance. Six new appliances are scheduled to be released by the end of the year, including the Business Data Warehouse (BDW) and Business Data Analytics (BDA).

So there you have it. Those organizations with the appropriate technical resources and data volumes can save money and gain performance by using the Fast Track methodology and those with larger data volumes and larger budgets can benefit from PDW by purchasing an appliance. I’m excited to see how these products evolve over the next 6 to 12 months and will keep you up to date on the progress.

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