Last week at our Data Driven event in New York City, we had the opportunity to meet with several hundred customers to talk about data in person, as well as many more online. More specifically, we talked about the opportunity and challenges facing our customers, how data can help them innovate and get ahead and how Microsoft, and SQL Server 2016, can help.

A few themes were clear throughout these great conversations:

  • A massive explosion of data from things, apps and services is affecting every customer.
  • In order to drive impact from all their data, there was high interest in using the new advanced analytics capabilities to derive intelligent action from data.
  • TCO matters to customers, there was high interest in the Oracle migration offer given the nearly 12X savings from SQL Server over Oracle.*

So, for our many customers and partners who couldn’t be there in person I wanted to summarize the top 10 questions I heard – and the answers.

Thank you for being a SQL Server customer. I encourage you to learn more about SQL Server 2016 and find out how we can help you transform your business.

– Takeshi

Top 10 customer questions

1. What’s the biggest challenge customers face today in managing their data strategy and how is what you announced helping them?

Customers want to be more agile to use and respond to new data and data sources as they are available. But they can’t completely replace their IT environment so those new solutions needs to work with what they already have and be deployed where their data lives. Our commitment is to help customers turn data into intelligent action with solutions that meet them where they are today, with the tools and languages they use most and the platform and applications they need, on-premises or in the cloud. At the Data Driven event we talked about:

  • How the rapid release model of the cloud enables us to quickly iterate on new capabilities and test features at scale. SQL Server is truly the first “born in the cloud” database where features such as Always Encrypted and Role Level Security were first validated in Azure by hundreds of thousands of customers and billions of queries.
  • Why our consistent model across on-premises and cloud delivers unique hybrid scenarios such as Stretch Database for customers who are on-premises so they can take advantage of the economics of the cloud by keeping terabytes of historical data online at a fraction of a cost of a SAN on-premises.
  • How SQL Server continues to deliver the performance customers want with the applications they need as evident by holding the #1 SAP benchmark on Windows.**
  • Our future plans for SQL Server on Linux which is part of our strategy to meet customers where they are.

2. Can you help better define what you mean by the core relational database being available on Linux?

We’ll first release the core relational database capabilities on Linux targeting mid calendar year 2017 and will work with customers to prioritize the additional capabilities. The core relational database capabilities, inclusive of transaction processing and data warehousing, are the core foundation of building intelligent applications and will enable customers to get started quickly with their deployments. To find out more about SQL Server on Linux, you can sign up to get regular updates and provide input to the team.

3. When SQL Server is available on Linux, how will customers license it?

A customer who buys a SQL Server license (per-server or per-core) will be able to use it on Windows Server or Linux. This is just part of how we are enabling greater customer choice and meeting customers where they are.

4. When SQL Server is available on Linux, what if customers have Software Assurance on their existing SQL Server licenses?

For customers who have made an investment in Software Assurance, as always, they will have rights to the future releases of SQL Server as we make them generally available.

5. What can customers expect in the future for SQL Server on Windows?

We have a 23-year history of Windows Server and SQL Server joint engineering and proven innovation. Windows Server and SQL Server today are the most widely deployed database and operating system pairing on the planet, with industry leading price/performance, unparalleled security, and simply-configured and powerful high availability and disaster recovery. We will continue to invest in helping SQL Server customers take advantage of the latest innovations in Windows Server to increase cost efficiencies and maximize performance.

6. Why should customers migrate off Oracle to use SQL Server today?

SQL Server 2016 is the database built for mission critical intelligence. It is the biggest leap forward in Microsoft’s data platform history with real-time operational analytics, rich visualizations on any mobile device, built-in advanced analytics, new advanced security technology to encrypt data at rest, in motion and in-memory, and new hybrid cloud scenarios. All of these capabilities are built-in into this latest release offering mission-critical capabilities at significantly lower TCO.

Microsoft is a leader in the Gartner Operational Database Management Systems Magic Quadrant with the execution score furthest to the top for execution and furthest to the right on strategy, which is a strong proof point for SQL Server 2014 as well as SQL Server 2016.

Customers can also choose to deploy SQL Server 2014 today or any supported version of SQL Server. Customers who take advantage of the Oracle migration offer with SQL Server 2014 today will have rights to deploy future versions of SQL Server once generally available during the term of Software Assurance.

7. Given this event celebrated the launch of SQL Server 2016, when is the general availability of SQL Server 2016?

Customers can expect SQL Server 2016 to be generally available this calendar year (2016). Last week we shipped the first release candidate (RC0) in which the core database is feature complete.  With the new rapid release model, customers can expect multiple release candidate prior to general availability so stay tuned for future updates.

8. When does the competitive migration offer expire? Is it only for Oracle?

To take advantage of the offer, customers would need to purchase by June 30, but have flexibility on the deployment timeline. Customers can use the migration offer to move off of all commercial databases including Oracle, IBM DB2 and SAP Sybase ASE to any supported release of SQL Server.

9. What are early adopter customers saying about SQL Server 2016?

Hear what DocuSign had to say about SQL Server 2016 and how they help organizations build entire approval workflows without a single sheet of paper or filing cabinet in sight. DocuSign partnered with Microsoft to help secure their customers’ data, realize insights with SQL Server analytics and BI capabilities and receive world-class support. Hear directly from their chief architect and vice president of platforms, Eric Fleischman:

10. How are partners responding to SQL 2016?

Partners are excited about the capabilities of SQL Server 2016.  At the Data Driven event, SQL Server partner OpenText shared that they are piloting use of the Stretch Database feature with Content Suite 16. Stretch Database will address OpenText’s customers’ hot and cold data storage and compute needs and enable customers to better leverage the mission critical data that powers their businesses. According to Adam Howatson, CMO, “The Stretch DB capability in SQL Server 2016 addresses this need and allows us to stretch information to the cloud to optimize their spend and the way that they manage information.”

Likewise, Royce Kallesen, senior director data science at PROS says of their pricing management software, “Getting data to the customers as soon as possible is vitally important. SQL Server with R Services is a big step forward for us and a great opportunity in the fact that we can have that Advanced Analytics embedded in with our database.”


* Annualized pricing based on Oracle US commercial list price and SQL Server open ERP EE price, assuming 16 core servers (two procs with eight cores each) running OLTP, BI, DW, AA and ETL Tools, 1000 BI users.

** Benchmark Certification #2016002: Two-tier configured SAP SD Standard Application Benchmark. Using SAP ERP 6.0 Enhancement Package 5, achieving the results of 100000 SD benchmark users using HPE Integrity Superdome X, 16 processors/288 cores/576 threads Intel E7-8890 v3 with 4096GB of main memory. Operating System: Windows Server 2012R2 with SQL Server 2014 Enterprise Edition as DBMS. For more details see: