Microsoft’s Improved SQL Server Will Have Its Competitors Scrambling, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., February 1, 1999 – Microsoft's latest release of SQL Server is in many ways a brand new product. According to a new bulletin by International Data Corporation (IDC), SQL Server 7.0 sets a new standard in ease of use and low administration that will have its competitors undertaking aggressive and creative countermeasures. Still, the bulletin asks, does its platform limitation and lack of future-oriented features such as Web enablement and complex data type support win the present but neglect the future?

The bulletin, Microsoft Aims High and Low: SQL Server 7.0 Assaults NT RDBMS Market (IDC #17798), closely examines the changes Microsoft has implemented in its latest release of SQL Server.

"SQL Server 7.0 represents a quantum leap in features and functionality over SQL

Server 6.5," said Carl Olofson, a research director with IDC's Database Management Systems research program. These improvements will overcome problems with scalability and reliability that have inhibited SQL Server's sales and ongoing success and bring the product into competitive parity with Oracle, IBM, and others in the small to medium-sized application database market on Windows NT.

IDC expects SQL Server 7.0 to experience strong sales in the first two quarters of 1999 and to recapture, at least temporarily, the NT RDBMS market lead, which Oracle currently holds.

Microsoft says that it has made its product smaller, faster, more reliable, and much easier to use. "This isn't a story about product improvements," Olofson said. "It's about changes in product and product strategy designed to make SQL Server 7.0 more practical for small system users, more robust for middle-sized system users, and more acceptable to larger enterprise users."

Despite the improvements to the product, SQL Server 7.0 does face significant challenges. "Its key vulnerability is the fact that so much of the product is essentially brand new," Olofson said. This fact may inhibit its broad acceptance among new customers, and its requirement for complete data conversion may make users of the current version hesitant to upgrade. The absence of a version that runs on Unix may limit customers? upward scalability options. Additionally, it falls short of the requirements for the large-scale enterprise databases of today, and the whole enterprise database of tomorrow.

"While SQL Server may capitalize on the needs of the present, the future is very much up for grabs," Olofson said.

IDC's bulletin, "Microsoft Aims High and Low: SQL Server 7.0 Assaults NT RDBMS Market (IDC #17798), is currently available. For more information or to purchase this bulletin, contact Cheryl Toffel at 1-800-343-4952, ext. 4389 or at

About IDC

International Data Corporation is the information technology industry's most comprehensive resource on worldwide IT markets, trends, products, vendors, and geographies. IDC provides data, analysis, and advisory services to the world's leading IT suppliers as well as IS professionals in finance, insurance, entertainment, advertising, consumer goods, and publishing. IDC's research and opinions are based on the results of more than 300,000 end-user surveys, in-depth competitive analysis, broad technology coverage, and strategic analysis. IDC is committed to providing global research with local content through its 500 analysts in more than 40 countries worldwide. Additional information on IDC can be found on its Web site at

IDC is a division of International Data Group, the world's leading IT media, research, and exposition company.

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