The once unthinkable is about to become reality.
Microsoft will release next year a version of its SQL Server database software that runs on Linux, the Redmond, Wash., software giant announced yesterday. SQL Server, like most of the company's business enterprise software offerings, traditionally has run on Windows and is a major a major pillar of Microsoft's enterprise software and cloud services strategy.
"This will enable SQL Server to deliver a consistent data platform across Windows Server and Linux, as well as on-premises and cloud," wrote Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise division, in a March 7 announcement.
"We are bringing the core relational database capabilities to preview today, and are targeting availability in mid-2017," he continued. To access the preview, Microsoft encourages IT professionals and developers to sign up at the new SQL Server on Linux page on the company's Website.
In a radical departure from his predecessors, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella declared that "Microsoft loves Linux" during a cloud-focused event in late 2014, citing support for Linux on its Azure cloud computing platform. Soon, that "love" will extend to the company's business database software.
Embracing Linux opens up new deployment options for businesses that may be seeking SQL Server's capabilities, but would rather run it on their trusted Linux distributions. Coming in SQL Server 2016 later this year are always-on encryption and new in-memory online transaction processing capabilities.
Microsoft is also banking on SQL Server to help extend Azure's hybrid cloud reach into the enterprise. When it launches, SQL Server will feature support for the company's Azure-backed SQL Server Stretch Database companion service, essentially enabling businesses to tap the company's cloud for increased compute and storage capacity.
So far, Microsoft has lined up support from Canonical, the commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu Linux Distributions, and Red Hat, a leading provider of enterprise-grade operating system software and services based on Linux.
Red Hat's Paul Cormier, president of Products and Technologies, said his company's customers are happy with Microsoft's increased involvement in the Linux open-source community and anticipates that they will welcome the news. "As we build upon our deep hybrid cloud partnership, spanning not only Linux, but also middleware, and PaaS [platform-as-a-service], we're excited to now extend that collaboration to SQL Server on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, bringing enterprise customers increased database choice," he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is gearing up for a series of SQL Server 2016 launch events this week in anticipation of the database software's general availability later this year. It starts with the company's Data Driven event on March 10. Scheduled to speak during the Webcast are Nadella; Guthrie; Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Data group; and Judson Althoff, president of Microsoft North America.
Microsoft isn't only banking on Linux to help popularize SQL Server in the cloud computing era. Last month, the company launched a slimmed-down SQL Server Express offering on the Azure Gallery marketplace for testing purposes and basic apps.