As my colleague Sam Varghese already announced, Microsoft is making SQL Server available for Linux by mid-2017, according to Scott Guthrie, the Redmond giant's executive vice-president for its Cloud and Enterprise Group.
While Microsoft has become more Linux-friendly in recent years - even contributing to the Linux kernel since 2009 - this announcement was unexpected, at least by this writer.
The days are gone of Microsoft's brickwall approach seeking to lure everyone to its operating systems. Just as Microsoft has been working to make non-Microsoft platforms viable first-class citizens on its Azure cloud, and just as Microsoft has been working to make its Microsoft Office suite available on any smartphone and tablet, so too this may be the beginning of a Microsoft push to de-couple its server products from the Windows server platform.
A Linux-based SQL Server may be just the beginning; it is now entirely conceivable we may see a Microsoft Exchange on Linux in the future.
Of course, Exchange has a greater tie-in with Active Directory than SQL Server does, and it is not inconceivable the Linux edition of SQL Server will only support SQL Server authentication from day one. This is a problem Microsoft will need to solve for Microsoft Exchange.
Linux databases traditionally have a greater reliance on command-line tools than GUIs, with MySQL, MariaDB, Postgres and more being easily scripted and controlled from the shell. On Windows, SQL Server only ever came with limited command-line tools though PowerShell now fills much of this gap. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft proposes to cater for Linux admin requirements in this regards, and then if any new tools will funnel from the Linux direction through to Windows.
It will also be very interesting to benchmark the two and compare licensing to see just how like-for-like the Linux and Windows offerings will be, and further, if a free version of SQL Server changes the web hosting world with its heavy dependency on the LAMP stack.
Nevertheless, whatever eventuates, gone are the days of Microsoft using its software to bring people to Windows Server and its days of Linux-bashing; instead it's increasingly evident Satya Nadella wants to take Microsoft products to the world, with the choice of operating system becoming, in time, no longer a limiting factor.