Our Take on the Microsoft SQL Server and Linux Compatibility


April 12, 2016

In March, Microsoft announced updates to the Microsoft SQL Server which includes one huge change in the product. SQL Server will be made compatible with the Linux operating system. The announcement was made at the Data Driven event in New York on March 10, and it couldn’t be bigger. For the first time, Microsoft is going to release a version of SQL for another operating system. Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise Group, later framed the news in a blog post as “the most significant release of SQL Server that we have ever done.”

SQL Server 2016 will be available for purchase later this year, but no solid release date has been set at this point. Until that time, all we can do is discuss what it means for the database market and
what value it can bring to an IT environment. Here is our take on the Microsoft SQL Server and Linux Compatibility


SQL Server Now on Linux

This news comes as a happy surprise to those Linux environments frustrated with Oracle or those running specific Windows servers just to host SQL Server; but for others, this is probably a point of some confusion. Why would Microsoft make this sort of move, and why now?

Microsoft is the only one with all the answers here, but there are some insights we can glean.


  • Azure and the Cloud Made this Possible: More and more environments are moving into a hybrid cloud model and utilizing the cloud for at least select applications. Meanwhile, Linux remains an excellent platform for cloud environments and many organizations continue to rely on it. If Microsoft expects to stay competitive after the industry shift to the cloud and at the same time promote their own public cloud solution, Azure, Linux needs to be a part of that future one way or another.


  • An Alternative to Oracle: The big shift now is that Linux users have an alternative for their commercial database needs. Instead of being all but forced to commit to Oracle, environments will soon be able to make use of SQL Server. This new compatibility puts Microsoft in a direct struggle for the same clients.


  • Aiming for the Big Fish: It’s possible this move was also made to appeal to some of the largest tech giants out there. Many of the biggest names on the internet, such as Facebook, are Linux-based. These sorts of accounts are prized possessions in the database market. Imagine the sheer scale of the database required to support Facebook or any other social media site. Now that Microsoft is compatible with Linux, it’s possible that accounts like this could be run on SQL Server in the future. At the very least, that door has been opened.


Microsoft SQL Server Release Updates

While Linux compatibility is the biggest story SQL Server 2016 has to tell, the release also has a number of attractive new features and capabilities. There are too many to go into much detail here, but we’ve outlined four new features that we are most excited about. From security to the cloud, SQL Server 2016 is shaping up to be a big step forward for the database software.


  • Always Encrypted Setting: This new feature will keep your data continuously encrypted within the database, and only the applications drawing upon the SQL Server will have access to the encryption key.


  • Dynamic Data Masking: SQL Server 2016 will include dynamic data masking capabilities. Now, the database administrator can set policies that determine who can see what aspects of the data on a granular basis.


  • TempDB Database Files: To increase efficiency and streamline the user experience, administrators can now generate multiple TempDP database files while installing the SQL Server 2016 program. In the past, TempDP files after the first one would have needed to be created manually.


  • Stretch Database:  While not exactly cloud bursting, the Stretch Database does something quite similar. As datasets become older, SQL Server 2016 will start shuffling these old unused data sets to the cloud storage at Azure SQL databases. Then when queries are run, SQL Server will search both locations simultaneously and present results as if they had come from the same origin.

There are more features and functionality in SQL Server 2016, including advanced analytics, JSON support, PolyBase queries, and more.

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