Update on Microsoft's Madison and Fast Track Data Warehouse Products - InformationWeek

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Commentary
7/17/2009
10:43 AM
Curt Monash
Curt Monash
Commentary
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Update on Microsoft's Madison and Fast Track Data Warehouse Products

Microsoft Madison availability remains scheduled for the first half of 2010. Tangible progress includes a few customer commitments of various sorts, including one outright planned purchase. At the moment various Microsoft Madison technology "previews" are going on, which seem to amount to proofs-of-concept that...

I chatted with Stuart Frost of Microsoft on Tuesday. Stuart is and remains GM of Microsoft's data warehouse product unit, covering about $1 billion or so of revenue. While rumors of Stuart's departure from Microsoft are clearly exaggerated, it does seem that his role is more one of coordination than actual management.

Microsoft Madison availability remains scheduled for H1 2010. Nothing new there. Tangible progress includes a few customer commitments of various sorts, including one outright planned purchase (due to some internal customer considerations around using up a budget). At the moment various Microsoft Madison technology "previews" are going on, which seem to amount to proofs-of-concept that:

  • Start with actual customer data (some from Microsoft, some from outside)
  • Generate larger synthesized data sets based on those (database size seems to be 10-100 TB)
  • Run in Microsoft data centers or "technology centers," rather than on customer premises.
The basic Microsoft Madison product distribution strategy seems to be:
  • Microsoft specifies configurations with different brands of hardware.
  • The respective hardware vendors sell and deliver those configurations, with Madison software pre-installed.
  • Actual software licenses are invoiced however makes sense, which in most cases may well be directly by Microsoft as part of a wider enterprise relationship.

Most of the usual-suspect big name hardware and storage vendors seem to be involved. Microsoft Madison is focused on "high-end" data warehousing, with Stuart candidly saying that everybody at Microsoft seems to have a different definition of what "high-end" means. In practice, this "high end" probably will be whatever conventional SQL Server doesn't do a good job on -- e.g., >5 terabytes, or even smaller in table-scan-oriented workloads.

Microsoft Madison seems further focused on being the "hub" to SQL Server data marts, with Stuart citing a survey saying Microsoft SQL Server has 44% market share in data marts when counting by unit. When I pressed for technical strategy as to how the data would be moved and synchronized between the hub and spokes, details were vague. Obviously, Microsoft still has considerable work to do in this regard, whether in articulating strategy or in actual product development. The same goes double for ease-of-data-mart creation ala Greenplum's Enterprise Data Cloud messaging.

While Madison is a future, Stuart says Microsoft SQL Server Fast Track is a "huge hit." He knows of 20 sales, and estimates the total number is in the 100s. The disparity is explained by the fact that that Fast Track comprises a set of recommended hardware configurations, rather than an identifiable Microsoft software invoice line item. The distribution model for Microsoft SQL Server Fast Track seems to be similar to that planned for Madison, with hardware partners such as HP making many of the sales.

Sales of all these Microsoft SQL Server data warehousing products seem to be focused on the Microsoft SQL Server installed base. No surprise there either.Microsoft Madison availability remains scheduled for the first half of 2010. Tangible progress includes a few customer commitments of various sorts, including one outright planned purchase. At the moment various Microsoft Madison technology "previews" are going on, which seem to amount to proofs-of-concept that...

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