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Making High Availability Work on 3000s

Why $2 Million SQL Server Appliances Sell

Earlier this month we reported on the HP-Microsoft alliance to sell a dedicated database appliance. That's the big Enterprise Data Warehouse appliance is hardware built specifically to drive a SQL Server resource, based upon HP's DL980 ProLiant hardware. The general price tag HP noted for the appliance was $2 million, which might seem steep to a company selling $50 million a year or less.

There's another way to look at the offer, though. It's got an extra cost of the Microsoft software, but that probably doesn't apply to most targets. We got educated by an HP staffer who's more technical than sales-oriented, a fellow who once ran his own consulting company and knows the 3000 from the 1980s. (We'd drop his name, but we don't want to complicate his life, or our long relationship with him.)

Ron seems to be taking a swipe at the $2 million price tag, but that is for the largest configuration. The main appeal of this type of hardware/software combo is that instead of you or someone from HP guessing what your app needs for hardware and software, HP and Microsoft have done the work of putting together a configuration and wringing it out, both from a functionality and performance standpoint, so the bring-up costs are next to nothing. $2 million may seem like a lot, but this is not a lot when compared with previous equivalent configurations.

Our expert contact adds that the reason SQL Server and Windows Server are unbundled is because "most customers who would be buying these will already have an enterprise license for these products, so no need to charge them again. Also, for those that don't, the pricing will vary depending upon how many users are going to use the appliance. There are two ways the licensing is sold, by user and by socket, and normally the least expensive is what is ordered."


The way it is now, you sit down with a System Architect (sort of like the old SE) and talk to them about what you need a system for, and they figure out what hardware you need, and propose it.  Then the customer gets it, it gets set up, and they spend weeks trying to get all the pieces to work, get the OS configured correctly, get SQL configured, etc. In the 3000 days, this sort of integration was sort of done by default, since you could only buy HP disks, terminals, etc, and everyone used IMAGE.

But the Windows world has a lot of moving parts, and getting them to sit down and behave is hard. With these appliances, we're sort of back to that. In this case, the system, storage, networking, storage networking, etc are already set up, and the genius people at HP and Microsoft have worked it over for months and gotten everything to work. There's backup, redundancy, etc, all built in.

And the price point per socket? That means the software is being sold by the power of the processor, not the number of users.

For SQL they sell it by the socket, or by the connection, because it's cheaper. For TPCH, which is just a bunch of queries, they price it by the user, since there is basically only one user on the system. This makes the benchmark price/performance number better. In the real world, they pick the method that will make the price lower, same as the benchmark.  But most enterprise windows customers have site/enterprise-wide licenses for the software, so they don't have to pay anything extra.