Executive Summary: DBNitro's SQL Nitro 2.0 boosts the performance of your SQL Server applications from the network level. SQL Nitro 2.0 does so by compressing the Tabular Data Stream (TDS), which SQL uses to communicate with networked clients. SQL Nitro is easy to install, achieves high rates of compression, and reduces network bandwidth utilization.

DBNitro's SQL Nitro 2.0 is a solution designed to boost the performance of your SQL Server applications, and let's face it: Improved performance is something we're always looking for. SQL Nitro is sold in three basic versions: SQL Nitro for SQL Server Production, which includes an unlimited number of client licenses; SQL Nitro Applications, which includes one client license; and SQL Nitro Replication Starter, which includes essentially two SQL Nitro for SQL Server Production licenses.

Unlike many performance-enhancing applications that attempt to optimize queries or perform other tuning tricks on the SQL Server engine, SQL Nitro works at the network level. SQL Nitro compresses the Tabular Data Stream (TDS) that SQL Server uses to communicate with networked clients. This approach has the benefit of not requiring any changes to be made to SQL Server or to the networked applications.

 

SQL Nitro 2.0


Pros: Easy installation, informative management console, no impact on non-SQL Nitro connections

 

Cons: Limited performance improvement in high-bandwidth situations

Rating: 2 out of 5

Price: Starts at $995 for SQL Nitro for SQL Server Production

Recommendation: SQL Nitro isn’t recommended for SQL Server installations with adequate bandwidth. However, it could be useful for servers constrained by network bandwidth.

Contact: DBNitrowww.dbnitro.com

DBNitro's website (www.dbnitro.com) claims the product can provide twice the speed and use half the bandwidth of the native SQL Server client libraries. Because SQL Nitro works with SQL Server's TCP/IP client libraries, it needs to be installed on both the SQL Server system and the network clients that connect to the SQL Server system. There's both an x86 version and an x64 version of the SQL Nitro client libraries.

One installation program is used to install SQL Nitro on both the clients and the SQL Server system. SQL Nitro supports SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2000. At the time of this review, SQL Nitro didn't include support for SQL Server 2008, Windows Server 2008, or Windows Vista; however, DBNitro plans to include support for those products in a future SQL Nitro release.

Installing SQL Nitro 2.0 was quick and painless, taking only a few seconds on both the client and the server. The SQL Nitro installer installs the SQL Nitro Control Console, as well as DLLs that work with SQL Server’s TCP/IP client libraries to compress the TDS. SQL Nitro's Control Console lets you turn SQL Nitro on and off, as well as track the real-time compression statics. Figure 1 shows the SQL Nitro Control Console. After SQL Nitro was installed, other networked clients that didn’t have SQL Nitro installed on them could still connect to the server, but as you would expect, those clients weren't able to take advantage of SQL Nitro’s compression benefits.

Figure 1: SQL Nitro Control Console

To test SQL Nitro 2.0, I ran a set of 30 queries between a Windows XP client and my SQL Server 2005 test server and recorded the total time for completion. First, I recorded the time it took to run a single connection. Then I reran the tests with 10 connections from the client system. Figure 2 shows a comparison of the query results before and after SQL Nitro 2.0 was installed.

In my testing, I found that SQL Nitro 2.0 did reduce network bandwidth utilization as I saw compression ratios of as much as 9:1 (93 percent). However, it didn’t significantly change the overall response time of my test queries. As you can see in Web Figure 1, I saw a slight decrease of about 2 seconds (1 percent) in application response time while running SQL Nitro 2.0. That said, my 100MB test scenario had plenty of network bandwidth.

SQL Nitro 2.0 isn't a panacea for SQL Server performance problems. In high-bandwidth situations, such as in my test scenario, it improved performance only slightly. In those situations, SQL Nitro wouldn't be a good investment. However, it did achieve high rates of compression, which could make it more effective in situations in which network bandwidth is the limiting performance factor. SQL Nitro is easy to install and turn on and off, so trying the product in your environment is risk free.