Microsoft's popular database software SQL Server is coming to Linux and will be available sometime next year. This is the first time that Microsoft has let SQL Server run on a platform other than Windows — it's a notable shift that means Microsoft is now prioritizing the sale of its database software over the sale of the operating system running beneath it. While that may mean fewer sales of Windows, it speaks to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's services-first approach. "Data is the core asset now," Nadella tells The New York Times. "Our most strategic asset is not the server operating system."
"This gives customers choice and reduces the concerns for lock-in."
SQL Server is available in a "preview" version on Linux today, with a full release planned for the middle of 2017. IDC's enterprise infrastructure VP, Al Gillen, explains on Microsoft's blog exactly why it's making this move: "This gives customers choice and reduces the concerns for lock-in," he says. "We would expect this will also accelerate the overall adoption of SQL Server."
Microsoft is up against several free, open-source database options, as well as other popular commercial options from companies like Oracle. By expanding outside of Linux, Microsoft's option becomes far more competitive, with companies no longer able to write off SQL Server because of Windows licensing costs or a preference for Linux. Enterprise software has remained one of Microsoft's strengths, even as PC shipments fall worldwide. Nadella has made it clear that he's willing to risk Windows' market share if it means taking a bigger presence elsewhere, and that's exactly what this move is meant to do with the database server market.