Do you have a large SQL Server database? If you do, you could have made $300 by participating in the Winter Corporation's annual Database Scalability Program that honors the world's largest databases. Winter Corporation will announce winners in 18 categories later this month. The categories for transaction-processing sites and decision-support sites include largest database size, most rows/records, and peak online activity for UNIX, Windows 2000 and NT, and other environments.

Unfortunately, the contest closed August 31, so it's too late to submit an entry for this year. But I think contests like this are a great idea, and no doubt you'll find the results interesting.

"Databases lie at the heart of business-critical solutions such as e-commerce, Business Intelligence, supply chain management, customer relationship management, and enterprise resource management," states the Winter Corporation Web site. "The rising popularity of these applications has elevated data volumes, user demands, and performance requirements to levels beyond all previous expectations. As a result, almost everyone involved with IT—suppliers, practitioners, and users- has a stake in database scalability, as do the consumers who have come to depend upon these products and services."

I agree. The entire database community is served when we can learn from those who blaze the scalability trails. When I talk to SQL Server folks, I often find that perception is reality. Many people in the database world perceive that SQL Server simply isn't scalable or appropriate for high-end database needs. If you've read this column over the past few months, you've seen plenty of information that documents the reality of SQL Server scalability, but perception is still king when customers choose their next-generation database platforms. Participating in activities like the Winter Corporation's Database Scalability Program is a great way to create additional information about SQL Server scalability and provide valuable information to your fellow SQL Server practitioners.

Drop me an email if you missed the chance to participate in the Winter Corporation survey but still have a huge SQL Server database you'd like the world to know about. SQL Server Magazine is always looking for interesting stories to share with readers. Send me a brief description of your monster-sized SQL Server database, and I'll introduce you to the SQL Server Magazine editors who can evaluate your site as a potential case study.

On another note, Microsoft Access has introduced many customers and database professionals to SQL Server. Access's tight integration with SQL Server and the Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE) make it easier than ever for Access developers to transition their skills to a more upscale client/server database model. However, Access's file server-based Jet database engines aren't programmed the same as client/server-based SQL Server engines. So if you're moving from Access to SQL Server, check out SQL Server Magazine Contributing Editor Rick Dobson's seminar series. Dobson's Web site provides information about the multicity seminar—and some great Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)-based coding examples for Access and SQL Server.