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Vendor Briefings - 01 Dec 2004

Insights from the industry

SQL Server 2005 Business Intelligence
At the 2004 PASS Community Summit, I sat down with Bill Baker, Microsoft's general manager for SQL Server business intelligence (BI), and discussed Microsoft's directions for BI in SQL Server 2005. Bill shared with me that Microsoft's main goal for SQL Server 2005 is to build an end-to-end BI platform that addresses the entire scope of BI functionality. With SQL Server 2005, Microsoft will deliver tools that cover the entire Integrate, Analyze, Report cycle embodied in BI. For integration, Microsoft has totally rewritten Data Transformation Services (DTS) as an enterprise class extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) tool and named the new tool Integration Services. Integration Services is written in Microsoft .NET—managed code and is designed to deliver high performance. To address the data-analysis requirements in SQL Server 2005, Microsoft updated Analysis Services. Analysis Services 2005 will provide a richer cube structure with the new Unified Dimensional Model (UDM). Reporting requirements will be taken care of with the new Reporting Services subsystem, which enables the creation and deployment of reports across the enterprise. A new Reporting Services Report Builder feature that extends the power of Reporting Services to the end user will be incorporated into Reporting Services. Microsoft is working to extend BI functionality through all levels of the enterprise by building it into the applications that IT professionals use.

Virtual Server 2005
In a recent briefing with Microsoft, I learned more about Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, a virtual machine (VM) solution for Windows Server 2003 that lets developers and administrators increase operational efficiency in software testing and development, server consolidation, and legacy line of business (LOB) application rehosting. In an effort to provide a seamless management experience, Microsoft and third-party vendors have updated their server-management tools. For example, the Virtual Server 2005 Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 lets you view both physical servers and VMs in one pane. Virtual Server support in Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 helps administrators identify a VM's physical host. The Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit (VSMT) will let you migrate physical servers to Virtual Server 2005 and migrate one virtual server to another virtual server. (The VSMT beta is available, and you can download it at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/.) With this capability, you can use the VSMT to migrate your VMware machines to Virtual Server. Virtual Server 2005 is available in a standard edition, which supports as many as 4 processors, for $499, or an enterprise edition, which supports as many as 32 processors, for $999.

LiveVault Dovetails with Microsoft's Data-Protection Strategy
Microsoft's recent announcement of its intention to enter the data-protection market signaled opportunity to LiveVault (http://www.livevault.com), a provider of offsite backup and recovery services. After Microsoft introduced its upcoming Microsoft Data Protection Server (DPS), a product that will allow continuous disk-based backup, LiveVault responded by announcing a service that will complement DPS. LiveVault AutoOffsite will work with DPS to automatically back up local DPS servers to an offsite location, thereby combining the benefits of Microsoft's localized backup and recovery scheme with the added security of offsite backup and data storage. The company plans to make LiveVault AutoOffsite available in beta to coincide with the DPS beta release in February 2005.

"DPS \[will do\] a great job of setting up and making the back-up process locally much easier for customers," Bob Cramer, LiveVault president and CEO, said. "LiveVault AutoOffsite, which is policy-based, uses the Internet to automatically transmit data from DPS servers to a secure remote offsite facility." LiveVault AutoOffsite and other LiveVault disk-based recovery solutions are focused on protecting data that resides outside of a data center, such as in small businesses and branch offices.

LiveVault is one of 20 Microsoft industry storage partners that have declared their support for DPS. "We see DPS as an extremely compelling offering," Cramer said. "It's strategically important for us to have a product that complements DPS. When companies add DPS as a local backup capability, that fits right into our architecture."

Storage for Email Messages
For midsized businesses, EMC (http://www.emc.com) has introduced a turnkey email solution to address storage consolidation, recovery, and archiving. Todd Donaldson, director of global solutions for EMC, told me that EMC's new Express Solution for E-mail focuses on improving productivity with tiered storage and automated mailbox management. Using automated policy management software, this product helps businesses consolidate and manage years of email messages on one networked storage system. To accelerate backup and recovery time, this package of hardware, software, and services includes EMC Replication Manager/SE.

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