SQL Server on Linux Shows Microsoft's More Flexible Side
Microsoft on Tuesday announced plans to release a version of its enterprise database product SQL Server 2016 for Linux.
"Bringing SQL Server to Linux is another way we are making our products and new innovations more accessible to a broader set of users and meeting them where they are," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for Microsoft's cloud and enterprise group.
With a Linux version, SQL Server will be able to deliver a consistent data platform across Windows Server and Linux, in the cloud and on-premises, he noted.
SQL Server for Linux also will bring to Linux users features such as mission-critical performance, industry-leading total cost of ownership, security, and hybrid cloud innovations such as Stretch Database, which lets customers access their data on-premises and in the cloud whenever they want, Guthrie said.
Microsoft has made a preview of SQL Server for Linux available. The final product is expected to ship in mid-2017.
Delivering on Hybrid Cloud
Microsoft believes that creating a Linux version of SQL Server will have a number of benefits for the product.
"Customers will be able to build and deploy more of their applications on a single data management and business analytics platform," Microsoft said in a statement provided to LinuxInsider by spokesperson Jennifer Reynolds.
Customers also will be able to leverage existing tools, talent and resources for more of their applications, the company noted.
What's more, partners with applications built on SQL Server will be able to serve more of their customers' environments, expanding their addressable market, Microsoft said.
"With Microsoft bringing SQL Server to Linux, enterprises will be able to further integrate disparate platforms to deliver on the promise of the hybrid cloud, while increasing the choice that developers, customers and partners have as open source continues to form the foundation of the platforms of the future," said Mike Ferris, Red Hat's director of business architecture.
Expanding SQL Server Market
Offering a Linux version of SQL Server is all about expanding market opportunities for Microsoft, noted IDC analyst Al Gillen.
"It's about capturing opportunities on Linux servers that Microsoft today doesn't have any offerings for," he told LinuxInsider.
"That's an important piece of the market," Gillen continued, "but it's not huge. It's not going to double Microsoft's volume or anything like that."
The move is also about garnering mindshare with customers, he added, "so that customers moving to a Linux platform will continue to think of Microsoft as a provider of the services and software that they need to run their businesses."
If those customers choose to use SQL Server in their on-premises Linux deployments, then when they move to the cloud, Microsoft hopes it can sell them on using Azure, the company's cloud offering, Gillen said.
"If they get the customers to use SQL Server, they have the opportunity to keep these guys as customers going forward," he said.
Brave New World for Microsoft
SQL Server for Linux is an expansion play by Microsoft, according to Jack E. Gold, principal at J.Gold Associates.
"There's a pretty substantial Linux community out there that Microsoft would love to sell its database to," he told LinuxInsider.
The move is also a recognition that the company is competing in a mixed vendor world.
"A fair number of Microsoft shops aren't pure Microsoft anymore, so increasingly companies that are deploying Linux in their infrastructure have had to look for a mixed database environment. Microsoft is trying to solve that for them," Gold said.
In addition, Microsoft is going to start running Linux on Azure, so it wants SQL Server to run there too, he said.
"The bottom line to all of this," Gold said, "is that with [Microsoft CEO Satya] Nadella in charge, Microsoft is starting to listen to their customers, rather than telling customers what they should deploy."
Coup for Linux
Microsoft's embrace of Linux is part of a larger trend at the company, noted Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.
"There was a large internal battle over whether applications should be decoupled from Windows. Now they realize they have to be more flexible in a changing environment," he told LinuxInsider.
"Not everything in today's infrastructure is running Microsoft's operating system," McGregor said. "By being more flexible, it opens up the market for them."
In addition to benefiting Microsoft, SQL Server for Linux has some benefits for the open source operating system's community, too.
"Microsoft's announcement that they plan to bring SQL Server to Linux is further validation of the power and acceptance of open source in enterprise environments," Red Hat's Ferris told LinuxInsider.
"It gives Linux even more credibility than it already has," IDC's Gillen noted. "If Microsoft is convinced that Linux is a platform that needs to be supported, what does that say about Linux? It says it's a respected and powerful platform."