February 08, 2011, 1:35 PM — The recent Microsoft-HP announcement of a range of database appliances based on Microsoft SQL Server and delivered preconfigured on HP hardware is part of a trend in delivering database technology. Microsoft's announcement means that they have joined the other major DBMS software vendors in offering especially customized hardware-software packages (Oracle offers Exadata, and IBM offers both Workload Optimized Systems (including the pureScale Application System and Smart Analytic System) and Netezza Data Warehouse Appliances). At the same time, Microsoft is putting increasing emphasis on the ability of users to deploy their databases in their Cloud service, Azure, using SQL Azure. This puts Microsoft out in front of the major players, but probably not for long. Going forward, it seems certain that enterprises seeking to deploy databases of any substance will have a choice to make: box or Cloud?
High availability and disaster recovery, capturing and processing streaming data, dealing with blends of predefined structured data and ad hoc data, mining social media data, addressing extreme transaction processing demands, rapdily growing databases, and widely fluctuating concurrent session counts are making the setup and management of many large enterprise databases next to impossible. As requirements for mission-critical databases, or even business-critical databases, that involve anything beyond fairly prosaic workloads, become ever more difficult to meet, two very different deployment options are becoming ever more attractive: one involves elastic cloud computing (EC2), and the other involves using a factory preconfigured and optimized hardware and software package. Put more simply, users will, in the near future, tend to turn to clouds and boxes to deal with these headaches.