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Premier Bankcard to Deploy Microsoft's New SQL Server R2

Bank card unit expects to see benefits from centralizing database administration and giving users self-service business intelligence.

As Microsoft rolls out its latest version of SQL Server today, Ron Van Zanten, directing officer of business intelligence at Premier Bankcard, Sioux Falls, S.D., expressed his company's (which he refers to a bank, it's a unit of bank holding company United National Corporation) commitment to the new database technology in a press conference this morning.

"We're a credit card company with four million customers, we issue Visa and MasterCard, and we manage more than 40 terabytes of data on SQL server; in our data warehouse alone we store 20 terabytes," he said, in apparent support of Microsoft's scalability claims for this product. At Premier Bankcard, SQL Server supports 3,000 users and runs 7,000 reports executed 20,000 times a day across 150 instances of SQL server. "It's the anchor for all our customer operations, including the scoring, servicing and return of new credit card applications coming in."

With the R2 upgrade, Van Zanten says the bank will benefit from enhancements in mirroring and in centralization of database administration. "Our four DBAs will spend less time going to individual servers, they'll be able to use use centralized management software," he said. "Our end users will benefit from self-service business intelligence."

In a recent interview, Herain Oberoi, group product manager, SQL Server Business Group at Microsoft, noted that the key features the company worked on for this release were scalability, self-service business intelligence and IT efficiency (Van Zanten was right on message). The software now works with up to 256 threads. SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel provides what he calls a "democratization of BI," in other words, users of SQL Server and Excel can set up their own analyses and reports in PowerPivot.

Microsoft says more than 2,000 global ISVs have indicated their plans to build solutions based on SQL Server 2008 R2, including Temenos in banking. It will be supported by SAP, Kronos and Epicor Software. It says more than 300,000 potential customers have downloaded the community technology previews.

This release has a cloud computing component — SQL Server will be offered over a cloud through Microsoft SQL Azure. "Microsoft is making a big bet on the cloud," Oberoi noted. He said there should be no noticeable difference between SQL on premise and SQL on the cloud.

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