Sybase Inc says it will begin shipping production versions of its long-awaited Navigation Server parallel relational database from December on AT&T Global Information Solutions Series 3600 parallel processors. It currently has four beta users of the software, which is aimed at high-end decision support and data analysis applications, and was developed in conjunction with AT&T and originally set for delivery this summer. An exclusivity deal between the two means the parallel offering will always be out on AT&T systems six months before it features on other machines. Planned IBM Corp SP2, Sun Microsystems Inc SparcServer 1000 and SparcCenter 2000 and Hewlett-Packard Co HP 9000 versions will not be around until the middle of next year. Sybase claims those implementations are under way at its Emeryville, California base, and that it will have a beta programme established in the first quarter when a version will also become available for AT&T’s 3550 symmetric multiprocessors. AT&T will be paid a royalty for every Navigation Server licence Sybase sells and the two remain committed to future joint development of it. Although the market for parallel-enabled databases is relatively small at the moment – combined hardware and software revenues are no more than $500m, Gartner Group forecasts that the total parallel market will be running at $5,000m by 1998. The Sybase-AT&T technology goes up against rival offerings from Oracle Corp with the Parallel Server, and Informix Software Inc with the OnLine Dynamic Server: each of course claims suerior functionality over the others. In particular, Sybase offers a collection of features in Navigation Server it says Oracle7 7.1 Parallel Query Option does not have, including parallel insert, update and delete; parallel index option – Parallel Query Option does not parallelise index access on tables that have been indexed; intelligent optimisation applications and data structures must be hard-coded to be used with Parallel Query Option; application transparency and flexible data partitioning; plus configuration and management modules. In Navigation Server, SQL requests to the database are accepted, managed and prepared for execution by a control server; a parallel optimiser generates parallel SQL; multiple SQL Server database engines execute the SQL code on their part of the data, in parallel; and results are returned to the user.
Sybase claims Navigation Server’s shared-nothing architecture can – at least on the Pentium-based AT&T Series 3600 – provide linear increases in performance and throughput as processors, users, workload and data are added to the system. Because IBM Corp implements a shared-nothing arrangement in its parallel SP2 line, Sybase claims that the company will not have to add an emulation layer to run Navigation Server as it has to for Oracle Parallel Server. To client users, Navigation Server appears as a single Sybase SQL Server relational database. Management tools includes a configurator, which analyses workload requirements and recommends system configurations and a graphical utility manager. AT&T is marketing Navigation Server and the configurator as Parallel Navigator and Parallel Architect respectively. Navigation Server’s partitioning enables replicated data to be accepted, although as yet it cannot slice up individual tables of data to output to replicated sites. Sybase promises additional replication features in subsequent releases, plus other tuning options for the optimisers and greater mapping to SQL Server. It anticipates the use of parallel databases expanding beyond decision support to operational requirements and transaction processing. Navigation Server supports configurations with up to 500Gb stored data and is priced from $150,000 – the company recommends a minimum of four or six processor units. Beta Navigation Server testers are Chase Manhattan Bank, a customer data warehouse, US West Inc, market analysis, AT&T itself, consolidated reporting and Kwasha Lipton, an unidentified securities house. One other user will be made public this m
onth. Chase Manhattan, a $7.5m account for AT&T and Sybase, expects its Navigation Server implementation, now up across four eight-node systems – with eight and 16-system configurations planned – to pay for itself within a year.