Microsoft is to start a wave of launch activities for the SQL Server 2016 database management platform this week, but has kicked off proceedings with the surprise announcement that it is preparing a version of SQL Server for Linux systems.
The company has provided public preview releases of SQL Server 2016 since May last year, and the release candidate version was last updated at the start of this month. Microsoft will now herald the arrival of SQL Server 2016 with a Data Driven event in New York on 10 March culminating in general availability of the platform later this year.
However, Microsoft will also bring SQL Server to Linux, starting with the core relational database capabilities currently available in the private preview release and full availability slated for the middle of 2017.
Bringing SQL Server to Linux will enable Microsoft to deliver a consistent data platform across Windows Server and Linux, as well as on-premise and cloud, according to Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise Group.
"SQL Server on Linux will provide customers with even more flexibility in their data solution. One with mission-critical performance, industry-leading TCO, best-in-class security, and hybrid cloud innovations like Stretch Database, which lets customers access their data on-premise and in the cloud whenever they want at low cost, all built in," Guthrie wrote on the Official Microsoft Blog.
Microsoft will face stiff competition in the Linux database market, as there are already a number of database vendors providing relatively mature relational database platforms. These include Oracle's MySQL, part of the widely used Lamp stack, plus MariaDB and EnterpriseDB, to name but a few.
MariaDB has already become the database of choice for inclusion with Linux distributions such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, although many of these are now lining up to praise Microsoft for bringing SQL Server to the platform.
However, it will take Microsoft some time to bring SQL Server for Linux up to feature parity with its Windows-based counterpart. The private preview of SQL Server on Linux currently has only the core capabilities, and those applying to join the preview programme will find that it is currently available only for Canonical's Ubuntu Linux or as a Docker image.
"We are delighted to be working with Microsoft as it brings SQL Server to Linux," said Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth. "Customers are already taking advantage of Azure Data Lake services on Ubuntu, and now developers will be able to build modern applications that use SQL Server's enterprise capabilities."
Microsoft said that SQL Server on Linux will be based on SQL Server 2016, meaning that it should eventually have most if not all of the same features, including encryption capabilities and in-memory database handling as an option for all applications.
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