Friday, December 16, 2016

SQL Server on Linux in 2016

This Blog post highlights only current state and future expectations of Microsoft's "SQL Server on Linux" project in EOY 2016.


As you've already heard, Microsoft had made a daring move and decided to go to the "Enemy" territory with their flagship product SQL Server.
That is actually not the first attempt of Microsoft to go with Linux. The most known known first invasion was with Linux based Hadoop clusters in Microsoft Azure:

So the current timeline for SQL On Linux looks like this:
- March, 2016 - first public announcement at a conference in NYC and starting it's private preview and testing;
- November, 2016 - After several monthly releases preview became public with CTP 1 (Community Technology Preview);
- Middle 2017 - Production market target for the product;

Why SQL Server on Linux? Our expectations.

At first will take a look at the pricing of one mid-size SQL Database server:
Windows 2016 Datacenter license cost (16 cores):           $6,155
SQL Server 2016 Enterprise license cost (16 cores):        $114,048
Total cost for 16 cores :                                                    ~$120K

I fill like it is pretty expensive. What do you think?


So, businesses currently have following "free"* alternatives based on Linux:

* I put word "free" in quotes because it does not include all associated risks.

Main risks of "free" solutions:

1. Security.
2. Scalability.

If you are small company, which does not store any customers' data in a database you might be OK with security. However, if you expect your line of business to grow 10 times in the next 5 years?
Will current free Linux databases be sustainable enough to support your database then?

Think about all development effort you put in free database product and about an effort to migrate that database to enterprise level with Oracle or Microsoft.

So, the solution is simple: Go with SQL Server on Linux!

SQL Server on Linux provides all necessary security and it is scalable to the enterprise level without any extra-migration programming effort.


(Disclaimer: I'm not working for Microsoft and do not have a Crystal Ball. All my expectations are only MINE and can go as knowledgeable suggestions. You can disagree or agree and support me)

So, I'd expect Microsoft to provide free version of SQL Server on Linux (Express/Small Business) with following limitations:
  1. CPU - up to 4 cores;
  2. Memory - up to 16 Gb;
  3. DB Size - up to 100 Gb;

I know, adepts of Microsoft will say: "-We can't give such a wonderful product for free!".

For that I have a justification from Oracle:

In year of 2000, when Microsoft gave away free SQL Server Desktop edition called MSDE, the limit in database size was 2GB!
Look at the diagram and compare it with 2016 limit in 10 GB.
So, if we are targeting going into production in 2017 with most of customer project deployments started in 2018, current SQL Express limitations will be absolute No-No for any business case scenario.

That might be against Microsoft line of business to give away free business product, but that move would make SQL Server #1 database in the world. People would forget about any other free alternatives.

I think only one argument might stop Microsoft from following that scenario. As I mentioned earlier, domination of Microsoft in the Database segment of the world market would make it a monopoly with all following consequences. 

Currently Supported features:

Database engine:

  • In-Memory OLTP; 
  • Updatable Columnstore Indexes; 
  • JSON Support;
  • Query Store; 

High Availability:

  • Failover clustering;


  • Only SQL Server authentication is currently available; 
  • Row Level Security; 
  • Dynamic Data Masking;


  • SQL Server Service;

SQL Server on Linux Target Audience

If my expectations become true in the middle of 2017 than here is a small list of beneficiaries: 
  • Small businesses – Low cost;
  • New businesses – Low cost with big potential growth;
  • Enterprise businesses – Reduced cost on multiple servers;
  • SQL Server oriented teams;

In the nearest future I'll cover some technicals of SQL Server on Linux.
So, please follow my blog and expect more.


  1. Does the SQL Server failover cluster leverage Clustered Resource Manager (crm) or does SQL Server install a separate clustering application? Can we use a cloud based quorum with a Linux failover cluster or is that limited to Windows? I am finding the documentation of SQL Server on Linux somewhat lacking. Do businesses have to become an expert through trial and error to utilize it? That would completely disintegrate the value proposition. Unless of course they knew where they could find a genius who could get them the mastery for less than cost of licensing Windows. Still shoestring budgets are shoestring budgets.

    1. Thomas, you are correct. The current clustering solution from Microsoft is based on Linux Pacemaker. I did not work with clustering in Linux and can't tell you more.
      Here are details o how to configure SQL Server clustering on Red Hat: