Data Warehouse Fast Track for SQL Server 2016

Microsoft Data Warehouse Fast Track for SQL Server 2016 is a joint effort between Microsoft and its hardware partners to deliver validated, pre-configured solutions that reduce the complexity of implementing a data warehouse on SQL Server Enterprise Edition.  The Data Warehouse Fast Track program provides flexibility of solutions and customer choice across hardware vendors’ technologies, and uses the core capabilities of the Windows Server operation system and SQL Server to deliver a balanced SMP data warehouse with optimized performance.


The reference architectures are tested internally by Microsoft and consist of high performance hardware and software configurations at various price, performance and footprint tiers.  Data Warehouse Fast Track for SQL Server brings some great capabilities designed to support a modern data warehouse implementation where data and analytics can truly exist in the same solution, spanning cloud and on-premises.  These reference architectures have been available since SQL Server 2012.

The Data Warehouse Fast Track is not a replacement for APS (Analytics Platform System).  APS is a MPP (Massively Parallel Processing) data warehouse appliance which is designed as a pure data warehouse offering and scales to store and query petabytes of data.  In general, the initial database size for using APS over the Data Warehouse Fast Track is 150TB (the database size is raw data with the assumption it will have a 5:1 compression):


Data Warehouse Fast Track for SQL Server brings the optimal configuration of hardware and software together into a single packaged offering which is guaranteed to perform.  Balanced against time to solution versus cost, Data Warehouse Fast Track for SQL Server truly enables success ‘out of the box’ without the need to perform arduous sizing or throughput calculations (this has all been done for you), simple purchasing and installation, fast performance and scalability, and total peace of mind.


There are certified reference architectures ranging from 6TB to 145TB across SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2016.  There is even an RA which scales to 1.2PB!  To see the partners and their Data Warehouse Fast Track for SQL Server offerings, check out Data Warehouse Fast Track.  Keep in mind there is the HP Superdome X for high-end OLTP/DW that has up to 384-cores, 24TB of memory, and 92TB of disk space that can give you even more performance for a SMP solution.

About James Serra

James is a big data and data warehousing solution architect at Microsoft. Previously he was an independent consultant working as a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence architect and developer. He is a prior SQL Server MVP with over 25 years of IT experience.
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5 Responses to Data Warehouse Fast Track for SQL Server 2016

  1. Andrew Peterson says:

    Thanks James, for many this will provide a good initial reference guide for when to consider APS

  2. George Qiao says:

    Hi James,

    Just wondering around 100TB Mark, how’s the general performance between SQL Server 2016 and APS? Also, at 100TB, what is the benefit of APS over SQL Server 2016?

    George Qiao

    • James Serra says:

      Hi George,

      Great question! You can expect just about any query to be much faster in APS over SQL Server 2016 no matter what the size of the database. Usually 20x-100x faster. It just becomes a question of what is the acceptable query performance from the end user. If I’m running an operational report and it takes 1 hour in SQL 2016 and 5 minutes in APS, it may not matter if the report is run at night to be ready for the next morning. But if I am using a dashboard and queries take 20 seconds in SQL 2016 but 1 second in APS, then it’s a big deal. APS can also load data much quicker. I mention other reasons at

  3. Emil says:

    Interesting, thanks!

    It seems that Lenovo at least is not that particular with redundancy. In their 6TB example using SATA SSDS they state:

    “Data files and tempdb can be on Raid 0 drives.”

    Sure, the x3550 is a 1U box with only 8 drive bays. What to do when one of these drives fail? Serious downtime for a simple drive replacement :/

    Older DWFT designs allways use RAID1 or 10 for the data lun’s.


  4. Ian Bennett says:

    Just want to point out that those data sizes are likely raw data and not compressed. I don’t think APS starting size even has 150TB capacity but assuming you are using columnstore compression the actual size on disk might be 30TB or less.