Leaving Small Business Behind


I just read Michael Otey's Editorial "The Threat from Below" (December 2003, InstantDoc ID 40689), and he is right on target. Microsoft's enterprise efforts with SQL Server are leaving small businesses behind.

We are a very small company using SQL Server 7.0 and have yet to see a reason to upgrade to SQL Server 2000, mainly because of cost. We don't use OLAP, data mining, XML, or other advanced features. We just want a nice relational database management system (RDBMS) that's easy to install, update, and maintain—all at a low cost. We don't have a part-time DBA, and we don't want to hire one. Not only is Microsoft losing the new market on the low end, but it's also losing the upgrade market. I read today that Microsoft is spending billions to focus on the small business market. For a start, I hope company officials read Otey's article and heed his advice.

—Warren B. McKenna
wmckenna@feckalona.com

Think MSDE for Small Business


In his December 2003 Editorial, "The Threat from Below" (InstantDoc ID 40689), Michael Otey says that MSDE is "unsuitable for most multiuser projects." This simply isn't true. In working the MSDE newsgroup daily and in talking with other Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) sources, I've learned that thousands of companies (such as Epcot and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida) use Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (MSDE) as a multiuser platform. Many people think MSDE can support only five users, but we've seen organizations using MSDE for small to medium-sized Web sites and traditional client/server rigs supporting hundreds of users. Although MSDE has limits on the number of simultaneous workloads it supports, many testimonials tell us that the governor isn't a factor—good design is.

Otey's article also says that SQL Server Personal Edition, which might be an alternative for small businesses, is available only with Standard and higher editions of SQL Server. However, Developer Edition is only $45 and grants rights to use MSDE with applications developed using Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, or other Microsoft development products. Developer Edition also comes with all the tools and features of the full-blown Enterprise Edition. In addition, MSDE is freely downloadable and included in all the Visual Studio and Visual Studio .NET products.

Yes, Microsoft needs to make MSDE easier to deploy. But Microsoft is working hard to revamp MSDE, and in the Yukon time frame, I expect to see an entirely new product that will be easier to deploy and manage. Over the past 18 months, Microsoft has spent a lot of time and effort educating the developer community about MSDE. It's also assigned MSDE a full-time product manager and created Web sites to simplify the End User License Agreement (EULA) and clarify when and where MSDE can and should be used (see http://www.microsoft.com/sql/msde for details).

I don't think we need a new, low-end SQL Server version for small businesses. We simply need to educate the world about viable, workable alternatives such as MSDE.

—William Vaughn
billva@betav.com