The release of SQL Server 2016 in June marks an improved release pattern for Microsoft. With the past few releases of SQL Server, Microsoft has delivered a more on-time and consistently updated product. Anyone wondering why need only to look towards Oracle. The SQL Server team within Microsoft has been chasing down Oracle’s database customers for many years now, and in many regards, seems to have found its stride.
So, what’s new and exciting with SQL Server 2016? The highlights include more security, advanced analytics, a more consistent experience with on-premise and cloud products, and faster performance. In fact, Microsoft now can claim that they are firmly challenging Oracle on most database performance metrics. Using this momentum, Microsoft is very much focused on un-seating long established Oracle shops with aggressive sales tactics and promotions.
This amounts to significant leverage for customers who are considering a migration away from Oracle’s database applications. While some databases and applications will still require traditional mainframes and other non-Microsoft products, Microsoft continues to chip away at capturing market share away from other RDBMS giants.
Meanwhile, there are some pricing adjustments to consider. SQL Server 2016 is offered at the same list price as the last two versions of the product. However, new pricing eliminates the SQL Server BI edition. Customers with SA on licenses for that edition will be converted to Enterprise Edition. The ramifications of this conversion include a move to per-core pricing, which could represent an increase for some customers.
Our advice to customers is this – there are deals to be had given Microsoft’s motivation to grow its database business, but don’t take savings at face value. Changes in pricing models could lessen the “compel” factor and careful cost scenario modeling is required.