Microsoft is porting SQL Server to Linux and is making a private preview of it available to testers today, March 7.
Microsoft's plan is to make SQL Server generally available on Linux by mid-2017, said Scott Guthrie, head of Microsoft's Cloud & Enterprise business, in a blog post announcing the news. The company will offer both on-premises and cloud versions of the product.
Guthrie's blog post mentions that SQL Server on Linux will include the Stretch Database capabilities that Microsoft is building into SQL Server 2016. It doesn't specify which other SQL Server 2016 technologies will and won't be in the Linux version.
Paul Cormier, President of Products and Technologies for Red Hat says that Red Hat will be offering SQL Server on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, also is quoted as saying that Ubuntu developers will be able to build on SQL Server.
Update: On the page where users can apply to be part of the preview, Microsoft reveals that right now "at this time, SQL Server on Linux is available on Ubuntu or as Docker image."
A spokesperson told me: "Today, the private preview supports Ubuntu and we intend to support Red Hat Enterprise Linux as well as other platforms over time." The spokesperson also acknowledged that Microsoft won't be bringing all of the same capabilities in SQL Server 2016 to Linux; it will be just the "core relational database capabilities."
It was just last November that Microsoft and Red Hat signed a long-awaited deal to bring Red Hat Enterprise Linux to Azure. Microsoft also offers the Ubuntu, CentOS, Oracle Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise and openSUSE, distributions hosted on Azure.
Microsoft is still working to finalize its SQL Server 2016 release. It's at the near-final Release Candidate stage at the moment, and is slated for general availability later this year.
Some folks are asking what's next to go Linux. Could it be SharePoint Server or Exchange Server? At least one analyst told the New York Times he doesn't see why not.