Content, Channel technologies, Channel markets, Virtualization, Enterprise, Channel technologies

Microsoft SQL Server for Linux Nears Commercial Release, Launch

Reminiscent of when Steve Jobs said that no one will ever want to use a stylus, and then several years later Apple releases a digital pencil also known as a stylus: Microsoft has delivered a  SQL Server release candidate for Linux, which means the relational database is nearly ready for production deployments on the open source operating system.

Microsoft first announced eventual SQL Server for Linux support last year, even though former CEO Steve Ballmer once said that "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." No doubt, current CEO Satya Nadella is more open minded.

With SQL Server 2017, Release Candidate 1 (RC1), which is now currently available to download, Microsoft has introduced support for SQL Server on Linux-based containers, a first for customers using those containers in development or production. Finalized releases, with some late-hour code fixes, typically ship within a few days or weeks of a release candidate.

SQL Server 2017 for both Linux and Windows Server could eventually help Microsoft to compete more effectively against Oracle, MySQL and other databases that scale across Linux and Unix.  The new database has several new benchmarks to show that it is performing faster than competitive databases and against older versions of SQL Server the company claims:

Microsoft has also introduced several feature enhancements in this latest version of SQL Server 2017 RC1:

  • SQL Server on Linux Active Directory integration – With RC1, SQL Server on Linux supports Active Directory Authentication, which enables domain-joined clients on either Windows or Linux to authenticate to SQL Server using their domain credentials and the Kerberos protocol.
  • Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt data – SQL Server on Linux can use TLS to encrypt data that is transmitted across a network between a client application and an instance of SQL Server. SQL Server on Linux supports the following TLS protocols: TLS 1.2, 1.1, and 1.0.
  • Machine Learning Services enhancements – In RC1, we add more model management capabilities for R Services on Windows Server, including External Library Management. The new release also supports Native Scoring.
  • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS)  In addition to the enhancements to SSAS from previous CTPs of SQL Server 2017, RC1 adds additional Dynamic Management Views, enabling dependency analysis and reporting. See the Analysis Services blog for more information.
  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) on Linux  The preview of SQL Server Integration Services on Linux now adds support for any Unicode ODBC driver, if it follows ODBC specifications. (ANSI ODBC driver is not supported.)
  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) on Windows Server  RC1 adds support for SSIS scale out in highly available environments. Customers can now enable Always On for SSIS, setting up Windows Server failover clustering for the scale out master.

SQL Server 2017 on Linux, in Action

Customers are already finding success with this new version. Convergent Computing, a system integrator and longtime Microsoft partner, achieved much faster return on server and storage hardware investments than usual by moving some tier-2 applications to inexpensive, white box servers running SQL Server 2017 on Linux.

Additionally, financial technology start-up dv01 started out with an open source database on a competitor cloud. The company ran into performance and scale problems, SQL Server was able to give it 15X faster performance, plus in-database advanced analytics. When the company moved to SQL Server 2017, it was able to standardize its operating systems on Linux.

I believe that in technology choice is what really matters. Every person and company should not be forced into a single solution. One solution that works amazingly for one company, could be a horrible solution for another. When you allow your customers to choose the platform they want to use, you create happy customers. I love seeing companies embrace this and offer choices to its customers, even when the choice leads them to the competition. SQL Database customers have wanted to use other operating systems for a long time, and it's great to see Microsoft finally allowing that to happen now.