Microsoft (MSFT) has unveiled new details about its plan for bringing SQL Server to Linux -- details that make it clearer than ever that the move reflects an effort to undercut Oracle (ORCL) in the database business.
In a blog post, Microsoft set Oracle in its sights by claiming that SQL Server, Microsoft's enterprise relational database platform, outperforms Oracle's alternative by up to twelve times.
The company also pitched SQL Server as a better database platform for the age of the cloud and IoT. "A massive explosion of data from things, apps and services is affecting every customer," Microsoft says, and "new advanced analytics capabilities" are necessary to meet the challenge.
The company added, "SQL Server 2016 is the database built for mission critical intelligence. It is the biggest leap forward in Microsoft’s data platform history with real-time operational analytics, rich visualizations on any mobile device, built-in advanced analytics, new advanced security technology to encrypt data at rest, in motion and in-memory, and new hybrid cloud scenarios. All of these capabilities are built-in into this latest release offering mission-critical capabilities at significantly lower TCO."
Microsoft was already offering free SQL Server licenses (along with migration tools) to customers who migrated from Oracle. But the blog post makes it clearer than ever how squarely Microsoft hopes to take on Oracle in the database space.
Customers who find the Microsoft pitch compelling may be disappointed, however, to learn that SQL Server 2016, Microsoft's newest iteration of the platform, won't be available for Windows servers until some time later this calendar year. And if you want to run SQL Server 2016 on Linux, you'll have to wait till "mid calendar year 2017" to do it, according to the blog post.
The details Microsoft has offered about its SQL Server plans are interesting because they provide new perspective on the company's enterprise database strategy -- as well as its decision to port SQL Server to Linux environments. If the move was engineered primarily to cut into Oracle's business -- which it clearly was, in light of Microsoft's latest statements -- making SQL Server available on Linux only makes sense. When Oracle offered one of the only enterprise relational database products for the enterprise that supported Linux, it enjoyed a market advantage based on that fact alone. Microsoft is now taking that advantage away.
Yet making customers wait more than a year before they can actually run SQL Server 2016 on Linux may frustrate some organizations -- especially if they thought Microsoft made the decision because it truly wanted to become more Linux-friendly. Given the long wait, the SQL Server 2016 support for Linux servers seems to reflect a business tactic more than any actual love on Microsoft's part for the open source community.