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DPF Data Services Lowers Costs and Increases Performance with SQL Server 2000

  Product Review published in DM Review Magazine
July 2005 Issue
  By Art Helmstetter
Microsoft Corporation
Review of: Microsoft SQL Server from Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft SQL Server 2000

REVIEWER: Art Helmstetter, director of technology for DPF Data Services.

BACKGROUND: DPF Data Services uses Web-enabled technology to provide comprehensive and cost-effective business processing outsourcing solutions. We provide our services to a diverse clientele by utilizing state-of-the-art processing capabilities at a secure fiber-optic equipped data center in New Jersey. We also have multiple data centers in India.

PLATFORMS: Dell PowerEdge server, Compaq ProLiant ML3000 and Enterprise Server 2003 attached to EMC 3930 and 3700 symmetric units.

PROBLEM SOLVED: As a data depository, DPF keeps information online 24x7 for a diverse clientele base that includes Fortune 500 companies. We used to rely on FileNet, Sybase 11.5, Oracle8.0 and other outsourced vendors to handle more than 4TB of information, but these products were not compatible with one another. In addition, backing up data with Oracle was extremely difficult and costly. We researched upgrading these various databases but decided against it because the cost was prohibitive. After estimating the upgrade prices, we decided to consolidate our systems and invest in a single system to deliver the performance and recovery we desired. Because I had worked with Microsoft before and found it was very effective in linking together all parts of a system, we decided to migrate to a Microsoft SQL Server 2000-based solution with five servers in three-node clusters with transactional replication. Since our initial investment in SQL Server, the product has grown with our company, and we are now fully programmed into the environment with more than $5 million invested. The database is available to customers around the clock through a private network. We have also extended our Microsoft investment to use SharePoint, Exchange Server, SMS and MOM - all of which work seamlessly with one another.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Since implementing SQL Server 2000, we have significantly increased our performance and benefited from enhanced data visibility through faster backup and recovery. We no longer need to use a variety of third-party vendors because Microsoft handles our needs for all our clustering and replication. We've also reduced our DBA overhead because our small group is able to manage the entire system. More specifically, the detach and attach capabilities have allowed us to move databases through our network very quickly without any issues or downtime. We are also able to work remotely with Query Analyzer and XML test environments.  

STRENGTHS: Since we implemented SQL Server 2000 five years ago, it has proven to be extremely reliable with zero downtime, while at the same time being incredibly robust. We now rely on the benefits of using Microsoft systems for its authentication and integration with e-mail, alerting and operations. In addition, SQL Server 2000 has been very cost-effective by eliminating the need for several third-party vendors, reducing the need for additional DBAs to run the system, as well as providing a full return on our investment.

WEAKNESSES: SQL Server's primary weakness is that it is limited to Windows systems and does not offer cross-platform functionality. Separately, SQL Server does not allow the same open source access as MySQL.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We evaluated newer versions of Oracle, Sybase, MySQL and IBM DB2; however, we found the upgrade costs for these products to be overwhelming. Because current programming and systems staff was already in their fifth year of developing Windows systems, the choice to go with SQL Server was an easy one. We clearly made the right decision, as our company has since increased its sales.

DELIVERABLES: We use SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services for dimensional reporting and SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services for analyzing our data. We use the entire SQL Server 2000 database with XML and ASP.NET.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Our company has always received incredible support from Microsoft for all of our products. Microsoft has encouraged us to pretest various installations and during these projects, the support offered was seamless.

DOCUMENTATION: Over the years, Microsoft's documentation has increased dramatically. We now rely on the online books, Web queries and case studies, which are all very educational.

SQL Server 2000
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052



For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...

Art Helmstetter is director of technology for DPF Data Services.

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