5.1 Market shares and Rankings
In spite of the fact that SQL server 2005 has added many very powerful features to the its business intelligence feature group. SQL Server is considered the best integrated BI solution out of the box. The highly prestigious Intelligent Enterprises business magazine within its annual 2002 review, has ranked the MS SQL Server 2000 BI solution as the best BI solution allover the world. Actually, this shows that SQL Server has an old history in excelling the BI area.
According to a recent Paper published in Communications of ACM, (paper is available on the ACM digital library) SQL Server BI solution has been shown as the biggest market share for BI Market while Oracle has come in the Seventh place. The figure shown below shows the attitude of OLAP market share for both SQL Server and Oracle.
Figure 5: The market shares for different OLAP vendors till 2004
It is important here to mention that oracle always claims that they have the biggest market share in BI industry. Actually, this is inaccurate information because they use the revenue market share measure which is misleading for customer. If Oracle has the revenue leading market share then this is true because their solutions are very expensive not because they are the most widely used by enterprises.
5.2 Why SQL Server has the biggest Market Share?
Actually, this question could be answered in a book but the paper will try to answer this very quickly and shortly through representing the major reasons for that.
5.3 SQL Server 2005 BI Solution Advantages
The following is a depiction for the main advantages for SQL Server BI solution as an overall solution not for depicting the detailed features. This may need more detailed technical context that is out of the scope of this paper.
5.3.1 Data Warehouse and BI Phases coverage
SQL server delivers tool for every phase within the data warehouse building life cycle. In addition these tools could work independently and away of any data warehouse. For enterprises that don’t have real data warehouse but se OLAP for better decision support, Microsoft provide an easy to use solution with a broad range of tools. Figure 6 depicts those main tools for building a complete BI solution.
Figure 6:The SQL Server BI Tools
Figure 6 shows the set of services and tools that SQL Server provides out of the box. When the customer buy SQL Server 2005 he actually, buys all of these tools. For all other BI Tools vendors each of these tools is sold separately. Some very famous Data Warehouse and BI tools Vendors (e.g. Ardent Solutions) has built their business on selling just one of these products. At regular scenarios, any data warehouse needs to begin by Extraction, Transformation, and Loading (ETL) process. This process takes a place on what is called the staging area that maybe a relational DB. The Microsoft Integrations Services is responsible of accomplishing the ETL task. The Loading is done from the Staging area to the actual data warehouse where all historical resides. Actually the SQL Server Relational Engine is available to take the responsibility of holding huge data warehouses. Later in this paper, some references will be given for this context.. At most cases people needs to navigate through the data in a multidimensional fusion for better understanding about their own business data. That is why a multi dimensional database management system is needed in order to build and manage the data cubes. Actually, this is what Microsoft Analysis Services does. After building the required cubes and mining models, it is time to expose this for users. Microsoft provides the Reporting Service in order to achieve this by the users themselves without the need of bothering, or depending on the IT team all the time. Reporting Services integrates with the Visual Studio.net to build very complicated and powerful reports. Many Management tools are available for developing and customizing your BI tools and managing your Meta Data as well.
5.3.2 Cross integration out of the box
All the previously mentioned tools and servers are natively integrated together. No all only these tools are integrated together but also a broad range of Microsoft Tools and Servers. This includes; Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server, Microsoft Active Directory, Microsoft Map Point (for geo-spatial data), and many other servers.
5.3.3 Office integration
Actually the Microsoft Office integrates with the SQL BI solution by a unique way. This includes;
Integration with Excel through, excel charts, pivot tables, and more.
Integration with the Windows SharePoint Service for building a BI dashboard.
Integration with Microsoft Office Business Score Cards for building score cards as well as balanced score cards for better KPI monitoring.
5.3.4 Broad Range of Data Mining Algorithms
Additionally, On Microsoft Analysis Service you can build whatever Data Mining models using the existing available seven algorithms in order to mine into broad range of problematic data. In addition to that, third party ISVs can develop algorithms that snap in seamlessly to the Analysis Services data mining framework. Depending on the data and the goals, different algorithms are preferred, and each algorithm can be used for multiple problems. In fact, this feature of developing new data mining algorithm is a very powerful feature that is not available at most of the data mining tools (Including Oracle tools).
5.4 BI Conclusion
The SQL Server BI solution is really far beyond Oracle BI solution
6. References and Case studies
The Following are some hints about some notable references for SQL Serve that should be highlighted here in order to show up its capacity:
6.1 Education and Research References
6.1.1 International References
University of South Florida
The University of South Florida chose the Microsoft platform and SQL Server to build a complete Web-based student information system that extracts information from an IBM mainframe and other database systems throughout the 36,000-student campus, increasing scalability while also lowering total cost of ownership and development costs of the previous deployed solution. The Old available system was previously built on Oracle.
The Henslow Research Group
Until recently, it has been believed that British naturalist Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution in isolation, basing it on observations he made during his five-year voyage on the research ship Beagle from 1831 to 1836. However, an international research team based at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, has used the analytical capabilities of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 to prove that one of the central tenets of Darwin’s theory is actually based on work by his mentor, J. S. Henslow. The Henslow Group examined fragile paper-based data collected more than 160 years ago and used the business intelligence (BI) capabilities of SQL Server 2005 to prove the importance of Henslow's work.
6.1.2 Local References
Ministry of Education
The Thanwaya Amma result web based exposure project is one of the hot references and examples that show how much SQL Server is scalable, reliable, and available. During the night of launching the Tnahwaya Amma result for education year, more than 4 million users has hit the website in one night. The Performance was outstanding. This could be validated easily through asking Ministry of Education people.
6.2 Applications Related to the Education Domain
6.2.1 International References
Barnes & Noble Giant Bookstores chain (Migrator from Oracle)
Barnes & Noble is a giant bookstores chain with 40,000 employees, and 4.5 Billion gross in 2005. “We Are currently Processing anywhere between 1 million and 3 million sales transaction records daily, and it take no more than 10 minutes to get the records into the data warehouse. That rate was not possible before” Said Eliot Gardner, the Data Warehouse project manager in Barnes & Noble.
Barnes & and Noble has already a previously implemented OLTP on Oracle, but moved to build there BI solution on SQL Server.
6.2.2 Local References
IDSC and Helwan University
The Information and Decision Support Cabinet for Prime Ministry in Egypt (IDSC) has their newest version of their Library Management system from scratch using SQL Server 2005, and Visual Studio.NET 2005. They faced some problems regarding huge amount of fields that should be added based on DIWI categorization Library standard. Using The available out of the box XML support feature, they designed the books table to have a an XML field that contain an xml document for saving the not commonly used DIWI categorization data. The system is deployed now on Helwan University Central Library which is one of the Largest (if not being the largest) central library available in Egyptian universities (public and private) today.
-Engineer Medhat Eltokhy, EALIS team leader, IDSC
-Engineer Medhat ElBakry, Applications Development CEO, IDSC.
6.3 Other References
Verizon is one of the biggest two mobile as well as ground carrier in North America. They are operating a SQL Server database with a size of 50.7 Billion rows and it is expanding.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
United States Department of agriculture is responsible of about $1.24 Trillion, or 12.3% of the overall American GDP. USDA is one of the most rigid agricultural ministries all over the world. They have very firm standards for everything. USDA is running a 25 Terabyte Data warehouse on and SQL Server platform.
6.4 Other Local References
Engineer Taha Shindy, The Information Center Manager, MCIT. :
Information center Manager has built and currently host the Arab League website using Visual Studio.Net and SQL Server.
6.5 SQL Server 2005 Fast Facts
According to study held in 2006 by Winter’s Corporation, about the database systems all over the world, the following findings has been produced:
One of the top three largest OLTP databases in the world, by rows is running on SQL Server.
Three of the largest OLTP databases in the world by volume are Running on SQL Server
One of the Top Ten largest data warehouses in the world is running on SQL Server.
65 percent of all SQL Server entries are at 2 terabytes or larger