In case you missed the announcement today, Microsoft SQL Server is going to be running on Linux soonish (mid 2017). This is some pretty big and interesting news.
The first thing to keep in mind is that this isn’t wholly unprecedented. This will be the second time that Microsoft SQL Server has run on an OS other than Windows. Keep in mind that originally Microsoft SQL Server ran on OS/2 (version 1.0 and 1.1), it didn’t run on Windows until 4.21, and it wasn’t built specifically for Windows until SQL Server 6.0 shipped.
Personally I think this is a really interesting path for the product to take. Obviously Microsoft isn’t going to be dropping Windows support or anything. This is simply a new avenue for Microsoft to explore in order to gain access to the open source application developer. SQL Server running on Linux is actually something that I’ve thought about in the past, and at the same time both wondered why they didn’t do it, and knew exactly why they didn’t do it.
When I first heard that this was something that they were exploring I was hesitant, but I could see the possibilities for the product as well as for the development communities that currently rely on MySQL/Postgress/etc. as they can install them on Linux/Mac OS/etc. as a package when doing their software development. Developers working on software which is running on a single machine, where that machine isn’t running Windows, is a large market of people. These folks often just need a RDBMS behind their application, and they want something which they can simply install on their machine and get up and running quickly and easily so that they can deploy their software. Currently packages like MySQL and Progress make this very easy for them to do. But wouldn’t it be nice if these same software developers could use an RDBMS which is much more fully featured with things like ColumnStore and Hekaton (In Memory OLTP) and which comes with an Enterprise Class support team at the vendor (Microsoft). The developers could even leverage this level of support when deploying their application to their customers.
So I was on a plane, and a little secret, we had hints that this was coming. I’ve been perusing Twitter and seeing a lot of people thinking this is a big shot across the bow at Oracle, and it really isn’t. I’m not going to discuss Oracle’s recent financials (hint—they haven’t been selling a lot of net new RDBMS licenses). Like Denny mentioned above, a lot of development work is on Macbooks (I’m writing this post on one right now), and a lot of devs are more used to Linux rather than Windows. If I were writing this post in 2002, I would think this move would be targeted at large enterprises because UNIX > Windows. Frankly, since 2008 Windows has mostly been on par with Linux and is better in several areas. This is all about giving developers a full robust RDBMS platform with good support. Will it be a full featured enterprise RDBMS tomorrow? Probably not, but the core engine will be there, and features will come over time.
My favorite part of SQL Server on Linux? My Bash scripts for automation work again.
Now there are clearly going to be a lot of questions that need to be answered. But this is going to be a very exciting time for those in the SQL Server community who are willing to learn about a new OS, embrace the command line (there’s almost never a GUI for Linux Servers), and not be afraid of a little change in the ecosystem.
Denny and Joey