Microsoft has fired a shot at rival Oracle, claiming SQL Server 7.0 is scalable enough to handle up to 95% of enterprise resource planning (ERP) installations worldwide.
Microsoft's Group Vice President -- Sales and Support Jeff Raikes who is also a member of the vendor's powerful executive committee, made the claim in a wide-ranging discussion with editors and news editors here this week.
Raikes said Microsoft expected the number of installations of SAP AG's R/3 ERP suite on SQL Server to increase from around 24% to more than 50% within the next 18 to 24 months due to the scalability of SQL Server 7.0.
He said the run-rate for client access to the database for SQL Server 6.5 had reached four million -- not far behind the six million he attributed to the rival Oracle database.
Raikes said Microsoft planned to work with independent software vendors -- such as SAP and Baan Co. -- and custom application developers to deliver integrated information system solutions based on SQL Server 7.0. Oracle was, he claimed, largely denied the opportunity to do so by that fact it competed with several software vendors through its applications business.
Raikes also warned that, despite a solidification of standards for the nascent open source Linux operating system, the traditional Unix weakness of standards fragmentation could be repeated in the open-source code area.
"In enterprise computing, customers are somewhat risk-averse," he said. Raikes also pointed out a reason why customers should remain with Microsoft was the vendor's commitment to spend US$3 billion on research and development over the next 12 months, up from US$2.5 billion over the last 12 months.
Raikes also conceded that easing the process of upgrading customers to the latest software releases was a serious industry-wide weakness. "It's something the industry needs to improve on and Microsoft needs to improve on," he said. He added that customers were also anxious to secure large-scale improvements in total cost of ownership (TCO) and nominated as the most important TCO issue the tight control of configuration.
In addition, Raikes acknowledged that there was "no magic bullet" when it came to issues associated with the application of service packs to multiple servers and agreed those issues were a concern for the "people running data centers and network infrastructure."
He also revealed that Bill Gates had made a strategic decision to shift most of the work related to the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust trial to "the legal department and a few other executives," freeing most of the executive committee to work on issues such as the forthcoming releases of Windows 2000 and Office 2000.