Windows-Based Databases Earn Trust in World's Largest Deployments

The largest Windows-based production data warehouses are more than twice as big as they were two years ago, and Windows as a platform is becoming trusted for a growing percentage of the very largest database systems, according to a survey by an independent organization.

At the same time, the results of the latest Winter Corp. survey of the world's largest databases shows that Oracle, Unix and mainframes continue to be the choice for the absolute largest systems. Meanwhile, Linux-based databases, which weren't even a blip in Winter Corp.'s last survey, rival or surpass Windows-based systems in many categories.

Waltham, Mass.-based Winter Corp. recently released the results of its Winter TopTen Program, which is done periodically based on customer surveys and a script run on the databases to verify the facts submitted in the surveys. Winter Corp. last published its survey in late 2003. The survey is significant because, unlike benchmarks, the results represent real systems running day-to-day operations at major organizations.

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The 2003 survey was the first time Microsoft products shouldered their way onto some of Winter's "All Environments" Top Ten lists, which include Unix and mainframe systems. Where Microsoft had one system in the "all environments" OLTP Top Ten in 2003, there are three Windows-based systems in the 2005 list. Microsoft was shut out of the "all environments" Top Ten for Decision Support Systems in 2003. The category, renamed "Data Warehouses" for 2005, includes one Windows-based systems (in eighth place) this time.

Two years ago, the largest Windows-based data warehouse in the Winter Corp. survey was an 8.9-TB system run by ComScore Networks Inc. -- a cluster of Dell servers running Sybase IQ on Windows. This time, UPSS has a 19.5-TB data warehouse, running not only Windows but also Microsoft SQL Server. The largest data warehouse system, a 100-TB Yahoo! behemoth, runs on Oracle and Unix. Meanwhile, Linux is also new to the "all environments" list for data warehouse database size -- and its debut comes in ahead of Windows'. The Amazon.com data warehouse weighs in at nearly 25 TB and it runs Oracle Real Application Clusters.

On the OLTP "all environments" list in 2003, a SQL Server 2000 production database run by Verizon Communications placed sixth for overall OLTP database size. The Verizon entry in the 2005 list has grown to 7.8 TB, but it is no longer the largest Windows-based entry in Winter's "all environments" list for OLTP. That honor is held by an 8 TB AIM Healthcare Services SQL Server-Windows system.

That the AIM Healthcare system is only sixth on the overall list, identical to the position the Verizon system held two years ago, illustrates that the very largest systems continue to rest on other platforms and are also growing at a fast pace. The largest OLTP system is old school in every sense. It's the 23-TB Land Registry for England and Wales, and it is an IBM mainframe running IBM's z/OS and DB2.

SQL Server made a much stronger showing this year, leading most of Winter Corp.'s "Windows only" lists. One notable exception is in a special category focusing on peak workload, where Oracle is dominant even on Windows servers.

For Windows-based OLTP systems, Oracle claims eight of the Top Ten spots for peak workload versus two for SQL Server. The system with the highest workload is a centralized SMP system running Oracle on Windows at HP. That category also contains a production proof point at Stadtwerke Munich for Oracle Real Application Clusters on Windows. On the data warehousing side, an Oracle/Windows/Unisys implementation at OTP Bank leads all Windows-based peak workloads.

Results of the Winter Corp. survey are available here.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.