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Microsoft And HP Announce SQL Server Appliance

Microsoft and HP announced on Thursday the November availability of the HP Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance for SQL Server. The hardware-software package is aimed at speeding deployment and simplifying management of hundreds, if not thousands of database instances in a virtualized "private cloud" environment.

Microsoft said the appliance will enable customers to deploy new database instances in minutes while reducing operations costs by as much as 75% over conventional database deployments, through savings on floor space, energy usage, and infrastructure.

Microsoft described the new appliance as an industry first, based on its ability to consolidate a database with no application or database changes using built-in tools for database migration and management. But the device is clearly the Microsoft-HP answer to Exadata, the Oracle database machine now claimed to have more than 1,000 deployments.

Exadata can be configured for data warehousing or consolidation in transactional environments, but competitors assert that the majority of deployments have been for the latter use. The HP Enterprise Database Consolidation Appliance is essentially the transactional-side counterpart to the HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance, which was introduced early this year and runs Microsoft's SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse.

The consolidation appliance full rack provides 58 Tbytes of storage, 400 hard drives, 192 logical processors and 2 Tbyte of RAM, but you can start with a half-rack configuration. The supporting software includes Windows Server Datacenter 2008 R2, new Microsoft Database Consolidation 2012 software to manage the appliance, SQL Server Enterprise Edition for unlimited virtualization of SQL Server virtual machines, and new appliance tools for configuration, testing and day-to-day management.

Also included with the appliance are virtualization templates for rapid deployment of small, medium and large database instances. Microsoft says the appliance can run any version of SQL supported by Hyper-V, including older editions and the SQL Server 2012 release expected in the first half of next year.

The consolidation appliance was announced at Microsoft's Pass Summit 2011, where the company also announced plans for a Windows-specific distribution of Hadoop and a series of new SQL Azure cloud-based database services. SQL Azure Hadoop and SQL Azure Federation services are set to debut by the end of 2011. The Hadoop service will support high-scale analysis of mixed, non-relational data while the federation service will enable developers to build scale-out applications across multiple databases.

Microsoft announced the immediate availability of community technology preview (beta) releases of SQL Azure Reporting and SQL Azure Data Sync. The Reporting service lets developers use Microsoft's familiar business intelligence tools to create and deploy app- or browser-embeddable reports against the cloud-based database service. SQL Azure Data Sync supports synchronization between on-premises SQL Server and cloud-based SQL Azure databases.

The pricing of the new consolidation appliance was not disclosed, and Microsoft did not announce whether similar appliances would be available on hardware from partners other than HP.

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