Will SQL Server On Linux Take Off?

Kevin Feasel

2017-09-07

Linux

Brent Ozar has his doubts about how popular SQL Server on Linux will be:

SQL Server 2017 runs on Linux, and the similarities between that and Windows Core are eerie:

  • Both present big stumbling blocks for traditional Windows DBAs
  • Both work mostly the same, but not exactly, as you can see in the SQL Server on Linux release notes
  • Both solved perceived problems for sysadmins
  • Neither solved a problem for database administrators

So why will you hear so much more about Linux support? Because this time around, it also solves a sales problem for Microsoft. Somebody, somewhere, has a spreadsheet showing that there will be a return on investment if they spend the development, marketing, and support resources necessary. (And I bet they’re right – if you compare this feature’s ROI against, say Hekaton or Polybase, surely Linux is going to produce a lot more new licenses sold.)

He does make some good points (though seriously, Polybase is awesome), but I think SQL Server on Linux is going to be quite a bit more popular for a couple of reasons.  First is core-based licensing in Windows Server:  that’s another big price increase that you get when upgrading to Server 2016, and at the margin, companies with a mixed OS setup will be more likely to move to Linux.  Second, Brent’s focus in the post is on current installations—that is, taking your Windows SQL Server instance and moving it to Linux.  As Koen Verbeeck mentions in the first comment, there’s a whole different market:  companies whose infrastructure is entirely Linux and are currently using MySQL, Oracle, or Postgres for their relational databases.  It’ll probably take a couple of years to get market penetration—especially because of the old guard Linux admin types who remember the Ballmer years with appropriate disdain—but this is a new market for Microsoft and they’ve already got a product which meets (or exceeds, depending upon your biases) the top competition.

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