Microsoft takes first crack at high-end data warehousing

Fast Track a prelude to Madison project

SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse is the first step on the road to realizing Microsoft's Madison project, a highly scalable database technology that will be available in an appliance.

Microsoft on Monday began its run at the high-end data warehousing market with the release of SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse, a set of reference configurations that let users select the hardware.

Fast Track, a result of last year's DataAllegro acquisition, is the first step on the road to realizing Microsoft's project called Madison, a highly scalable database technology that will be available in an appliance. Microsoft intends Madison to be its flagship product in high-end data warehousing.

DataAllegro developed large-volume data warehousing appliances, and Microsoft hopes to scale Madison to handle hundreds of terabytes of data using SQL as the underlying database engine. DataAllegro offers massively parallel processing technology that will sit on top of multiple instances of SQL Server.

Fast Track, which is available now, is hardware and a set of reference configurations Microsoft has qualified on pretested and preconfigured platforms from Bull, Dell and HP. The configurations push the scalability of SQL Server as high as 32 terabytes.EMC also signed onto Madison as hardware partners but were not named in Monday's announcement.

Microsoft plans to add more hardware partners in the future, according to company executives, but they did not name any additional vendors. In late 2008, Unisys and

In the first half of next year, Microsoft will unveil Madison appliances that are built on SQL Server and employ the DataAllegro technology, according to Stuart Frost, general manager of SQL Server data warehousing at Microsoft.

"Madison is based on SQL Server and uses some of the same techniques we are using in Fast Track, but it is a different hardware platform because of the massively parallel nature," Frost says.

Fast Track is for users who want to build data marts. Microsoft is hooking Fast Track into its business intelligence tools for SQL Server.  Madison is designed to scale to petabytes, supports high-speed queries and is targeted at companies looking for highly scalable data warehouse technology.

Microsoft is entering a highly competitive data warehousing battle that includes Teradata, Netezza, Oracle, HP, Sybase, Greenplum, IBM and others.

Both Microsoft's Madison and Fast Track are expected to eventually gain management tools under Microsoft's System Center banner, according to Frost.

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