"Microsoft wants to sell a lot of these and they want to address larger deals" that vendors such as IBM, Oracle Teradata and Netezza have been snatching up, he said.
Microsoft's planned pricing of $13,000 per terabyte of raw data, positions PDW well for small to mid-market customers as well as large enterprises, he said. Products from most of the other vendors in the space currently start at around $20,000 per terabyte, though that price should soon start dropping, Kobielus predicted.
However, Microsoft's success in the market will hinge not merely on price, but also on the kind of analytics tools it makes available on the system and on how well it packages and supports its technologies for different industry segments, he said.
Microsoft's scheduled launch of PDW comes at a time when rivals have all been rushing to deliver tightly integrated hardware and software appliances for data warehouse applications.
Microsoft, in contrast, doesn't make any of its own hardware and will need to rely on partners to get its technology to market. And its ability to support a product of this class is also untested. That could pose a challenge in terms of marketing as well as service and support.
As it is, HP has had a hard time in the data warehouse market. Its core data warehouse technology, the NeoView appliance, has largely languished for the past few years and barely has a market presence today. That makes its partnership with Microsoft on PDW even more interesting, analysts said.
For Microsoft, the new technology will represent major changes, said Eynav Azarya, CEO of Panorama Software, a company that sold its OLAP software to Microsoft back in 1996 and is now a strategic business partner.
"Microsoft has been known for playing in the lower end of the market and not so much the mission-critical high end," Azarya said. "Putting a [product] that is close to $1 million in the market is a major change. I think Microsoft is playing a performance game that is very different for it."
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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