Volume 5, Number 9 -- March 5, 2008

Microsoft Touts Speed, Simplicity of Windows Server 2008

Published: March 5, 2008

by Alex Woodie

What can reduce OS deployment times by 60 percent while providing a 70 percent performance boost? If you said "Windows Server 2008, coupled with SQL Server 2008, compared to earlier versions of those products," give yourself a gold star. These were some of the figures used by Microsoft last week during its big "Hero's Happen Here" launch event. They reflect "hard" benchmark test results, in addition to "soft" numbers from a white paper analysis of deployment costs and flattering customer testimonials of sheer awesomeness.

Every server launch needs a good benchmark result to demonstrate speed and awesome performance, and Microsoft's HHH event didn't disappoint, with four industry benchmark results to share, and a handful of other internal benchmarks thrown in for good measure.

At the top of Microsoft's list is a new record in the Transaction Processing Performance Council's TPC-E benchmark, which simulates the OLTP workload of a brokerage firm. A 32-socket NEC Express5800/1320Xf running dual-core Intel Itanium 2 processors, Windows Server 2008, and SQL Server 2008, managed to process 1,126 transactions per second (tpsE), at a price/performance ratio of $2,771 per tpsE. That's the first time any server has broken the 1,000 tpsE boundary, and is 70 percent faster than its nearest competitor. (It's also the first run through of an Itanium-based machine on the benchmark, and is not inexpensive.) This would be the Ferrari benchmark.

Microsoft also touted a four-socket IBM x3850 M2 server running X7350 quad-core Intel Xeon processors at 2.93GHz, which managed to process 479 tpsE, at a price/performance ratio of $1,591 per tpsE. Those results represent a 14 percent increase in performance over a previous result run on SQL Server 2005 on Windows Server 2003, Microsoft says, and sets a new record for a four-socket server. This would be the Chevrolet benchmark.

Microsoft also ran Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition through the TPC-H benchmark, which simulates a business intelligence workload. After loading a 10 TB data warehouse, a 32-socket Hewlett-Packard SuperDome server equipped with dual-core Itanium 2 processors was able to perform 63,650 queries per hour (QphH), at a cost of $38.54 per QphH. Neither figure is a leader for its category, as an IBM DB2-based System p server is the leader in terms of total throughput (343,551 QphH), as well as cost efficiency ($32.89 per QphH).

Microsoft expects to officially publish the TPC results by the third quarter, although the results can be viewed now on the TPC Web site.

The question remains: Will Microsoft test its new operating system and database software on the TPC-C benchmark, which has been the benchmark of record for years, and which Microsoft itself has used to show off its previous products? It looks doubtful. Here's what the vendor has to say about the matter: "Microsoft's analysis has shown that TPC-E exercises more database functionality and is broadly more representative of customer workloads than TPC-C. In the future, Microsoft will use TPC-E to demonstrate OLTP performance on SQL Server 2008 and beyond."

Microsoft also tested its new gear against the SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) three-tier benchmark, which is a standard way to measure a given server's performance against a common ERP workload. A 16-way HP ProLiant server equipped with quad-core Xeons running at 2.4 GHz was able to process 10.2 billion dialog steps per hour with an average response time of 1.99 seconds, or 170,200 SAPS (an SAP SD unit of measurement). That stood up pretty well against a two-socket IBM System p with dual-core Power6 processors running AIX and DB2, which was able to process 9.7 billion dialog steps per hour with an average response time of 1.89 seconds, or 161,520 SAPS. (There is no price/performance measurement in this benchmark.)

Microsoft also announced less-meaningful benchmarks for various custom scenarios using Dynamics CRM, Dynamics AX, Siemens Teamcenter and Camstar Manufacturing Execution Systems.

"But what about easier deployments?" you ask. While Microsoft doesn't have any third-party data that's independently verifiable, it does have a new white paper, titled "Windows Server 2008 Drives Business Value," that was put together with assistance from Capgemini, the IT consultancy and a Microsoft business partner.

According to Capgemini's white paper, deployment of Windows Server 2008 were completed, on average, 60 percent faster compared to Windows Server 2003, or about 10 weeks compared to about 16 weeks. That speed corresponded with a savings of $124,000 per year, or nearly one full-time staff position, Capgemini says. "The new OS quickly and clearly adds value to IT operations through simplified management, security, and reliability," the company concludes. The white paper can be downloaded from

Even bigger numbers were thrown out by some of Microsoft's customers. Go Daddy, for instance, says it's seen the performance of its Windows product hosting business increase 300 to 400 percent, thanks to Windows Server 2008 and Internet Information Services 7.0 (IIS7). "We are excited to offer this technology to our customers," says Bob Parsons, Go Daddy CEO and founder. "Go Daddy prides itself on using cutting-edge technology."

Another happy early adopter is Fidelity National Real Estate Solutions, which used Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008 to create a real estate Web site for home buyers. "Not only is the new Web site visually cool--serving up customized content, 3-D aerial views, and animations 10 times faster than was possible with older technologies--but it also was created for approximately $1.4 million less than it would have cost using other development tools," said Marty Frame, a senior VP with Fidelity National Real Estate Solutions.


Free At Last: Microsoft Ships Windows Server 2008

No Price Increase for SQL Server 2008

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Editor: Alex Woodie
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
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