With the release of SQL Server 2008 R2, Microsoft and its partners launched a new direction for SQL Server by introducing a set of database appliances. Appliances are different from standard server configurations or even referenced server architectures because of how appliances are preconfigured. When you purchase and deploy a standard server or a referenced architecture, you need to install and configure the OS and all of the required applications on the server before it can be used. In contrast, an appliance comes with all of the required hardware and software components preinstalled. This lets you deploy an appliance far more quickly than a standard server or referenced architecture. Microsoft and HP now offer four database appliances that run SQL Server 2008 R2.

Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW)

Designed to support massive enterprise-sized data warehouses, the PDW is a high-end, multiserver solution that’s priced in the millions of dollars. This solution is designed to support enterprise data warehouses ranging from 38TB of data to 500TB of data. HP sells this appliance as its Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance, and it’s delivered in a multinode configuration with 10 server nodes. An HP ProLiant DL380 functions as a control node, and multiple HP ProLiant DL360s function as data nodes. As its name suggests, the PDW takes advantage of its Massive Parallel Processing (MPP) architecture to process business intelligence (BI) queries on multiple nodes simultaneously, giving it higher scalability and performance than SMP SQL Server implementations.

Business Decision Appliance (BDA)

Designed to be a Plug and Play (PnP) BI solution for small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) and departmental implementations, the BDA comes in a 1U rack-mounted form factor with dual Intel six-core X5650 2.67GHz Xeon processors. It’s equipped with 96GB of RAM and eight 10,000rpm 300GB Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives. It also includes Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition, SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition, and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise Edition. The BDA is designed to support PowerPivot queries for hundreds of active users.

Business Data Warehouse (BDW)

The BDW is designed to support data marts and small-scale data warehouses for medium and large businesses. The BDW is based on the HP ProLiant DL370 G6 server, which is a 4U unit. The BDW comes with two Intel Xeon X5675 six-core processors running at 3.46GHz, and it’s equipped with 96GB of RAM, 22 internal 600GB SAS drives, and two internal 300GB SAS drives. The BDW supports data warehouses up to 5TB in size.

Database Consolidation (DBC) Solution for Microsoft SQL Server

Although the other appliances on this list are primarily designed to help businesses quickly implement BI solutions, the DBC is a completely different type of product. Instead of supporting BI workloads, the DBC is designed to simplify the process of database server consolidation by providing a prebuilt virtualization appliance that’s ready to run SQL Server virtual machines (VMs). The DBC scales from a half-rack four-blade 28TB solution to a full-rack eight-blade 57TB solution. Virtualization is provided by Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V, and virtualization management is provided by Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008. Prebuilt SQL Server VM templates enable quick provisioning of new SQL Server VMs.