Never mind that Microsoft has seen fit to reorganize its vast, mainly free, online resources for developers. The new msdn.microsoft.com promises to offer a useful portal for developers, one that developer sites from Oracle (technet.oracle.com), Sybase (www.sybase.com/sdn), and IBM (www.developer.ibm.com) will be hard-pressed to emulate. It's worth your time to register for these sites. Oracle has detailed white papers on migrating to Oracle from almost any database. Also, see Microsoft's white papers on migrating Oracle, Sybase, Access, and Btrieve databases to SQL Server at www.microsoft.com/sql. Also, you can access legacy versions of similar documents written for migrations to SQL 6.5 in the MSDN library under Technical Articles, Databases and Messaging, and SQL Server. And you can find code snippets on Sybase's site on topics such as generating sample data that works with SQL Server. IBM posts scads of information, so look at www.redbooks.ibm.com and www.software.ibm.com/data/db2.
For years, analysts have been predicting a shakeout and consolidation that's finally happening in the crowded /reporting/querying/ OLAP client market. Thanks to a series of acquisitions (PC DOCS/Fulcrum, Leonard's Logic, Andyne, and Angoss), Canadian-based Hummingbird is emerging as a major business intelligence (BI) player. Elsewhere, Brio Technology acquired SQRIBE Technology, and Information Advantage acquired IQ Software. And don't forget the giant acquisition of Platinum Technology by Computer Associates. The SQL Server community will want to monitor the effect on Platinum's Enterprise DBA and Platinum's collaboration with Microsoft on the Microsoft Repository.
Many DBAs are weighing the pros and cons of getting certified. As of the end of March, Microsoft reported that more than 53,500 people had passed various SQL Server exams to date (no breakdown by exam available). Oracle claims that as of April, more than 10,000 Oracle DBAs have been certified since it started counting in September 1997. As of late March, IBM reported more than 3000 DBAs certified on DB2 universal database (UDB) who are joining the ranks of more than 10,000 DBAs certified on the mainframe version of DB2. Speaking of DB2, the newest version of the AS/400 operating system, OS/400 4.4, includes DB2 UDB.
Office 2000 and Windows CE
Developments in Microsoft's Office 2000 and Windows CE will affect the SQL Server community. Microsoft is promoting Office 2000 as a serious development platform that not only comes with built-in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA, essentially VB), but also holds the keys to the new Extensible Markup Language (XML).
Read the Fine Print
Michael Otey's editorial comments about benchmarks ("The Oracle Challenge," April 1999) are right on the money. But remember that the Transaction Council's TPC benchmarks aren't the only ones in town. OLAP Council has its Analytical Processing Benchmark-1 (APB-1) OLAP benchmark, which you can review at www.olapcouncil.org.
Both Microsoft and Oracle forbid you to disclose any benchmark results without the firms' prior consent. Your SQL Server End-User License Agreement reads in part, "Performance of Benchmark Testing. You may not disclose the results of any benchmark test of either the Server Software or Client Software for Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, or Microsoft Proxy Server to any third party without Microsoft's prior written approval." In fact, in early 1998, Microsoft more or less forced IBM to unpost a research report prepared by UK-based Bloor Research that compared DB2 and SQL Server 6.5 performance. As Jeff Jones, senior program manager for IBM's data management marketing, says, "We don't place any kind of restriction on anyone when it comes to publishing benchmark results with DB2. We are unlike Oracle and Microsoft in this regard, and we plan to stay this way. We remain the only 1TB TPC-D result on Windows NT."