I’ve had great success scaling-up SQL Server by using large, symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) servers attached to roaring fast SANs through zoned fibre switches. But my colleague, Rich Johnson, a BI Architect with Microsoft Consulting Services, has been whispering in my ear about impressive numbers from his new prototype BI Server, which I call the “SQL Server Microwave.”

I don’t want to steal Rich’s thunder because he describes the prototype in concise and compelling feature article, “Pare Down and Power Up,” ( http://www.sqlmag.com/Article/ArticleID/49011/sql_server_49011.html ) in the March issue of SQL Server Magazine. In the article, Rich outlines his design for the database server and storage platform he’s been testing. The platform consists of a low-cost, high-performance, 4-way, dual-core x64 server with 32GB of RAM and 64 local SATA disk drives. The platform yields a screaming SQL Server configuration that performs unbelievably--and the hardware costs a fraction of present-day enterprise server and SAN configurations. The article sticks to the facts, describing the speed and performance Rich and his colleagues have seen in their tests so far.

But once you step outside the article’s scope and soak in the facts, you’ll ask the same question I did: What will this prototype do to the hardware landscape? I call the prototype the “SQL Server Microwave” because it yields dramatically faster performance than conventional methods. Because the prototype can configure as a turn-key, enterprise solution for such a low price, it doesn’t have to be as future-proof as the higher-priced servers. It’s an appliance; if it breaks or loses novelty, you can simply buy another one because it’s cheaper than pouring expensive man-hours and replacement parts into the one you have. This platform will be very popular in development, test, and QA environments in which where it’s cost-prohibitive to mirror a production platform’s performance or storage capacity.

Nothing is going to happen overnight as a result of Rich’s research and testing, but it’s the beginning of an interesting ride for the upcoming year. When Amazon starts selling SQL Server Microwaves, you can bet they’ll be on backorder right away.