Microsoft capped off a week of high-profile announcements related to SQL Server with an aggressive migration offer aimed at Oracle database customers. Here's the bottom line, from Microsoft's announcement:
SQL Server leads the industry on security, performance, and price. And we want to prove to you that there is no equal. Move your Oracle databases to SQL Server and receive the necessary licenses of SQL Server--free with software assurance. Take advantage of this offer and get the one data solution that has everything you need built in.
See also: Microsoft waves the 'free licenses' flag to try to grab Oracle database users
Of course, "free" is a relative term, as Constellation Research VP and principal analyst Doug Henschen notes.
"The offer seems simple: 'Migrate your Oracle databases to SQL Server and receive the required equivalent licenses of SQL Server -- for free*,' Henschen says. "The all-important asterisk is tied to the following caveat:
Software Assurance subscription required. To qualify for this offer, you must have an SCE (Server and Cloud Enrollment) for SQL. If you have an SCE that does not involve commitment to SQL (e.g., an SCE for VSO), you must comply with the SQL minimum requirements in the SCE. Offer is limited to a renewal or new signing event; a three-year Software Assurance commitment is required.
"The bottom line is that you'll commit to three years and pay for maintenance, but it's still an aggressive offer that will raise interest from Oracle Database customers facing renewals, true-ups and audits," Henschen says.
One question is how customers and Microsoft will determine what constitutes an "equivalent" license, given how many variables are in play between the two platforms as far as optional features, core licensing requirements, virtualization policies and other factors.
Still, there's no question Microsoft is willing to put up the goods in hopes of luring Oracle customers over to its side. The offer also includes migration tools and free training for Oracle DBAs, although the deal is only good through June 30.
Microsoft is also hardly being shy in touting SQL Server 2016's advantages over Oracle, as Henschen notes.
During its Data Driven event on Thursday, Microsoft claimed that that SQL Server 2016 delivers "11.7 times TCO savings over comparable Oracle solutions" and it also claimed "one tenth the number of security vulnerabilities of Oracle Database," Henschen says.
SQL Server 2016's top new features include support for in-memory columnar analytics, which build upon previous support for in-memory OLTP acceleration, he adds. Microsoft is claiming the new release is 30 times faster than SQL Server 2014 for OLTP and 100 times faster for analytic queries.
For security, SQL Server 2016 adds Always Encrypted, which protects data both at rest and in motion. Even during querying, DBAs can't see sensitive data, Henschen notes. This feature matches up against Oracle Database 12c's Transparent Data Encryption option.
Other improvements include SQL Server Stretch Database, now in preview, which gives users the ability to push cold and warm data to Microsoft Azure, while retaining the ability to query it in real time.
Finally, Microsoft made a considerable splash this week by announcing a preview release of SQL Server running on Linux. General availability is planned for the middle of 2017, and you can read our full report here.
The Bottom Line
"All of this adds up to a very aggressive pursuit of the broad database and modern (cloud and mobile-spanning) data platform market," Henschen says. "It continues Microsoft's steady push upwards in the market and presents the biggest threat not to open-source databases and niche big data and NoSQL databases, but to Oracle and its grip on the high end of the market for running applications, data warehouses and data marts."
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