Linux Becomes a Player in the SQL Server World

If you’re looking for proof of the hybrid, multi-platform nature of today’s data environments, look no further than many SQL Server sites. Linux—not too long ago seen as a competitive platform to all things Microsoft—has become a platform of choice now supporting many SQL Server environments. Data managers are increasingly recognizing the advantages the Linux platform brings to their environments, and close to one in three have already deployed their databases on the open source platform.

This is one of the key findings of a survey conducted among 306 members of PASS, the Professional Association for SQL Server, by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc., in partnership with Red Hat. The results reflect the experiences and viewpoints of respondents from a range of company sizes and industries, including IT services/system integrators, financial and business services providers, government agencies, and healthcare organizations (“Linux Becomes a Player in the SQL Server World: PASS 2021 Survey on Microsoft SQL Server Platform Trends,” Unisphere Research, April 2021).

The survey found that SQL Server sites are embracing a diversity of operating systems beyond Windows, and that Linux is prevalent at many sites. In a survey of Microsoft SQL Server shops, it’s no surprise that Windows Server is the ubiquitous platform. Yet, close to one-third also have Linux as their underlying system. Microsoft now actively supports SQL Server on Linux, and adoption among the SQL Server base is strong. Thirty-one percent report running SQL Server on at least one Linux-flavor operating system, often in conjunction with Windows. At the same time, many non-Microsoft databases are running on Windows. Other databases seen in these shops include Oracle, MySQL/MariaDB, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB.

Linux use for SQL Server deployments is on the upswing. Adoption of Linux as a SQL Server platform is expected to more than triple over the next 2 years. And, more than two in three IT professionals indicate they are likely to consider moving to Linux under the right circumstances.

But, although Linux adoption is rising at SQL Server sites, data managers express concerns about skill levels and compatibility with current Windows applications. When it comes to proficiency, data managers question their own knowledge about Linux. Most feel they are not familiar enough with the Linux operating system to embrace the platform.

From an enterprise perspective, the primary challenge to moving to Linux is one of skills availability. Seven in 10 data managers cite the need for the expertise to support Linux. Respondents at current Linux sites agree that skills availability is an issue. Compatibility with Windows-based applications is also seen as a concern. Moreover, current Linux users point to the availability of database tools and data replication issues as additional concerns.

The priority for many SQL Server shops is moving to the cloud and more flexible platforms. Organizations are increasingly recognizing the value of cloud as a SQL Server environment, and the amount of SQL Server maintained in the cloud is expected to double over the next 2 years.

Running SQL Server on the open source Linux platform has proven to be a good bet for many data managers. SQL Server on Linux maintains the same enterprise-level features as on Windows, including high availability and performance. And, despite some misperceptions, DBAs may employ many of the same tools within their SQL Server environments, whether on Linux or Windows. Azure Data Studio, for example, is a cross-platform tool for managing SQL Server. And while SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is a Windows application, it can remotely connect to Linux SQL Server instances. Deploying on a Linux platform also provides opportunities for greater integration with enterprise ?IT ecosystems and reduces reliance on a single vendor.