Microsoft is making a version of SQL for Linux. No, you’re not asleep. No, this isn’t the Twilight Zone … it’s real.
“Why?” you ask? There are several very good reasons for Microsoft to go this route, the first revolving around the simple fact that their database product has gotten REALLY good lately. In fact, the only real direct competition they have is Oracle. Microsoft has a great product, it makes them a ton of money, and the world as a whole is very much going the database-centric route. At present, Linux users’ only real option for databases on Linux are PostgreSQL, MySQL or Oracle. The costs range from free to moderately expensive to REALLY expensive as you go through those three options. Microsoft will fit in between those niches to provide a legitimate, supported offering for (most, probably) what we’re already used to paying on the Windows side. If nothing else, this should increase competition with Oracle and potentially make things cheaper.
“Again, why?” Well, here’s a time where the appropriate answer has a lot to do with ‘the cloud’. Most of the major cloud players right now run Linux-based VMs. Microsoft obviously offers Azure with full Windows licensing, but the cloud as a whole is Linux based. More and more products are running on databases, but if your app runs in one of the other clouds, you’re not running it on Microsoft and you’re running it on another database option. Now you can run your cloud-based database app on an amazingly good database program, and still live within the Linux world.
“Should I care?” Yes. This is a huge step for Microsoft — for the first time they’re producing one of their mainstream applications for an open environment and not locking it to their proprietary operating system. Don’t be confused, though, this is not them open sourcing SQL. It’s still proprietary, but now there are options for which operating system you can run it on. With the new licensing announcements for Server 2016, big SQL could quickly become very expensive on Microsoft OS. For example, say you need a monstrous quad-18 core server to run your SQL (for some crazy reason). Licensing that with 2012 R2 would be around $1800, while licensing it with 2016 would be $4,410. That’s a large jump, AND it has SA associated with it yearly to the tune of about 25 percent. With SQL running on Linux now, you could (technically) have a completely free OS under your SQL. HOWEVER … you probably shouldn’t. If your production is running on the system, you probably still want to have support so that if something really nasty happens someone can help you; whether your Linux distributor of choice is cheaper than Windows, you’ll have to see for yourself.
“I don’t run Linux, so why should I care?” The cloud is here to stay, whether you like it or not. Increasingly, the cloud apps that people are running are based on some form of Linux. Having the same database you already know and are comfortable with while being able to transition it between multiple different operating systems, depending on your needs and where you are running things, could be a huge benefit.