Posted on: February 23, 2017

By now, you know that one of Microsoft’s biggest announcements of 2016 was its plan to join the Linux Foundation. This news, in and of itself, wasn’t all that surprising. What WAS surprising, though, was that Microsoft also boldly proclaimed that SQL Server Next was going to operate “the same” for both Windows and Linux Server. On top of that, it’s been said that SQL Server Next is going to be available on both platforms by the middle of this year.  

So, why is this so surprising? Well, earlier in 2016, Microsoft had said that SQL Server operating on Linux was going to employ a subset of features from SQL Server for Windows. Now, however, it appears that the approach is aimed more at unity and consistency, with a singular SQL server featuring support for two distinct operating systems. And that is certainly good news!

How are they going to pull it off, though? Well, sneak peeks into SQL Server operating on Linux have revealed that Microsoft appears to be making use of its “Drawbridge” technology. Doing so is allowing the tech mogul to actually utilize SQL Server directly on Linux.

For those who aren’t familiar, Drawbridge exists as an adapted form of the Library OS concept, which Microsoft had been working on several years. This unique breed of virtualization is perfect when dealing with application sandboxing, which is why it’s been such a great pick. And it’s effective. In fact, Drawbridge had a huge hand in ensuring that the Bash shell was able to function with Windows 10.

It’s not just sneak peeks that provide insights as to how Microsoft is dealing with the challenges of creating a singular SQL experience across two servers. Microsoft itself stated that Drawbridge is, indeed, at the center of how things are working. Microsoft claims that a Linux-enabled SQL server was made possible through the creation of SQLPAL (SQL Platform Abstraction Layer), evolving directly from Drawbridge.

Now that we know how Mircosoft plans to do it, let’s discuss the reality of ALL SQL Next features being available on both Windows and Linux. Is that really going to happen? We feel pretty confident that users are going to be able to enjoy a very uniform experience. 

At the moment, they’re getting close. The publicly released preview of SQL Server Next for Linux was highly functional, although there were certain features that are not available as of yet. Not to worry, though – Microsoft plans to enable the following missing features:

  • SQL Server Agent
  • SQL Server Browser
  • SQL Server R
  • Full-text search
  • Polybase
  • Replication
  • FileTable
  • Stretch DB
  • Distributed query
  • Database mirroring
  • Windows Authentication
  • StreamInsight Analysis
  • Extensible Key management
  • Data Quality
  • Master Data

So, why are they making us wait for this stuff? Well, according to Microsoft, the aim is to provide feature parity over a period of time. There will be, however, some specific SQL Server Next elements that may end up being limited to or uniquely available within each OS. In these cases, a comparable feature will be available in its counterpart. The fact of the matter is that making some of these features available on both platforms requires a great deal of integration and testing within Linux. The availability of the features will be prioritized based on user demand and customer feedback. 

Those with a vested interested in SQL Server Next in 2017 (for both Linux and Windows) will need to keep an eye on things as they evolve. In the meantime, be sure to stop back for more updates, or give the experts at Uncommon a call to discuss what’s coming down the pipeline.