The Story of Professor DeWitt

January 30th, 2012 Posted by Starcounter No Comment yet

Imagine if Toyota trying to forbid anyone to publish information on how fast it is from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) or how much petrol it consumes per mile. Consumer activists and governments would not have it.

But hear this! Some database engine vendors actually do just that! They forbid the user to publish any benchmarks what so ever. The way they’ve managed to do it is actually a quite cunningly worked out construction in their licensing. The scheme goes like this:

• If you benchmark the database product, you have either accepted the license terms or you are running the database illegally. Both are bad option and can put you in serious trouble.
• If you license the products from Microsoft and Oracle (amongst others), you have agreed not to publish any benchmark. It’s in the “I accept agreement” checkbox where you lied about having read the license terms.
• Conclusion: You are in a deadlock. Break the license agreement and face the facts or refrain from entering into a license agreement and thus refrain from running benchmarks.

This madness began in the early days of SQL databases when Professor David DeWitt published a paper on database benchmarking. In the proposed tests, a database company named Oracle did not do to good. Larry Ellison, the now famous Oracle CEO, was not pleased. He went as far as demanding DeWitt’s to be fired from his department. Of course, the department chair doesn’t fire its professor because Oracle did bad in a benchmark. The result is that the popular license clause in the EULAs of the dragons now has a name – the DeWitt Clause.

The good news is that you can stay clear of the limitation by never, ever installing SQL Server or Oracle on your computer and thus accepting its license agreement. But then, how can you benchmark it if you can’t install it. Clever.

When you install Starcounter, a small demo application will be installed. Press F5 to compile and it will run both SQL Server and Starcounter. In this way you can see how Starcounter performs without us worrying about the DeWitt clause. And after all, you will probably trust your own figures over ours anyway.

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