The Era of Microsoft on Windows-Only Is Over – OMG

Written by Donald Feinberg and Merv Adrian

On 25-Sep-2017 at Ignite, Microsoft announced general availability of SQL Server 2017, now supporting both Windows and Linux platforms, as well as support for containers. It can now book revenue for a product already widely used by early release customers.

What does this imply for the $34.4 billion database management system (DBMS) Market? Over the years, Microsoft has grown SQL Server revenue substantially, capturing over 20 percent of the DBMS market without a Linux offering. Few thought we would see the day where a major Microsoft software product would run on anything other than Windows.

Microsoft SQL Server started life as Sybase SQL Server. In 1988, Microsoft acquired joint rights on x86 and called it SQL Server. In 1993, the partnership was dissolved and Microsoft retained SQL Server and developed it independently of Sybase, running on x86 and Windows OS. SAP ASE, formerly Sybase ASE, (Sybase was acquired by SAP in 2010) shares the procedural language Transact-SQL (T-SQL) with SQL Server.

Linux support has been a long time in coming. Both of us were in (separate) meetings at Microsoft 10 or 12 years ago, where we suggested that SQL Server be ported to Linux. The notion was met by the senior management of the then Server & Tools Group (STG) with strong disagreement (and several “expletives deleted.”). Our premise then – and still – was that this would position SQL Server as a portable DBMS, boosting sales, offering more addressable market to compete in. Customers would know they could move to Linux if desired, removing the notion of lock-in to the Windows Server OS.

Today, SQL Server runs on Windows and Linux – and containers (Docker and Kubernetes), putting it on an equal footing with other DBMS products. It supports Availability Groups that span both OSs, enhancing cross-OS testing and migration projects. Microsoft claims over 2 million Docker pulls of SQL Server 2017 for Linux since November 2016. With the generally lower pricing of SQL Server, including availability on-premises with a subscription instead of a license + maintenance, as well as pricing and discount programs including a joint marketing program with Red Hat (see Microsoft’s press release), we expect increased competition with other relational DBMS players, like IBM Db2Oracle and SAP ASE.

The momentum is clear. Gartner Software Market numbers show that Microsoft passed IBM in total DBMS revenues in 2014 and is now second only to Oracle. In 2016 overall DBMS revenues grew at 7.7 percent and Microsoft grew at 10.3 percent, strengthening its #2 position, while Oracle grew 3.3 percent – off a much larger base that includes the Linux workloads Microsoft did not compete for. With a competitively priced product that is now portable across more than one operating system, Microsoft SQL Server is positioned to gain even more market share. To further support this, SQL Server on-premises is now fully compatible to Azure SQL Database, allowing customers full flexibility in choosing the desired platform, using on-premises SQL Server licenses for Azure deployments. Its on-premises subscription pricing positions it competitively with open-source RDBMS products, with no upfront license fees. In the year ahead, competition will be more heated than is has been for years.

Hadoop Summit Recap Part Two – SELECT FROM hdfs WHERE bigdatavendor USING SQL

Probably the most widespread, and commercially imminent, theme at the Summit was “SQL on Hadoop.” Since last year, many offerings have been touted, debated, and some have even shipped. In this post, I offer a brief look at where things stood at the Summit and how we got there. To net it out: offerings today range from the not-even-submitted to GA – if you’re interested, a bit of familiarity will help. Even more useful: patience.

–more–

IBM STG Trip Report: Hardware-Software Synergy Yielding Dividends

Every year in the fourth quarter, IBM assembles its Systems & Technology Group (STG – the hardware guys) executives for discussions with the analyst community to review results and discuss the year ahead. STG’s Senior VP Rod Adkins teed up this year’s meeting with a reminder that STG and Software Group (SWG) both now report to Steve Mills, SVP and Group Executive – Software & Systems. This change naturally suggests the possibilities for increased synergies between the two parts of IBM, and although much collaboration has been in place over the years, IBM’s attention to leveraging the opportunity has clearly come into sharper focus. The interaction was a recurrent theme. Read more of this post

IBM’s IOD Showcases DB2, Informix, InfoSphere. Now, About Marketing….

It was hard to decide where to look first in Las Vegas this year at IBM’s flagship information management event. Coming as it did on the heels of a massive, sprawling Oracle Open World, it was also overwhelming, but distinguished itself immediately by its focus. Whereas Oracle has smashed together hardware systems, apps, middleware, java and development, systems management and database into a bewildering multi-site show, IBM continues to run separate events for Websphere, Rational, Tivoli, and Lotus. No single IBM event trumpets “we’re the biggest,” and they don’t take over the towns they’re in; the content seems a bit more manageable. And as an attendee who hopes to get a broad view, I’m happy with that. However, as I’ll discuss below, Oracle is winning the messaging war nonetheless.

There was indeed talk of systems at IoD this year, as Smart Analytics Systems got a refresh and some added units on x-based platforms. Flash memory additions to the x-based 5600, bundling InfoSphere and Cognos along with an updated Linux release, provide the basis for a good story along with more cores, memory and storage. A similar story is possible for the POWER-based 7700, which also added the new Blue Darter solid state disk (SSD.) And the z audience gets the 9600, with its sidecar, the transparent offload to the Smart Analytics Optimizer. Yes, IBM has a column-based database, with innovative storage tweaks and an optimizer that knows when to use it and when not to. Great promise there.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Try this: ask 10 IT people what Exadata is, and what Smart Analytics Systems are. Ask them who makes the offerings, and what they do. Go ahead…I’ll wait….

Back? OK. Here’s what I learned, after doing that experiment at 3 events attended by IT people (data people, in fact.) 8 of 10 I asked knew Oracle makes Exadata and it’s a wicked fast platform for data. 4 of 10 knew who makes the other one, and fewer knew why. On visibility and buzz, game Oracle.

There is much more to talk about, and visibility and buzz are not everything. IBM’s numbers continue to be good, and nobody in Armonk is complaining. But the IBM Software brand needs to get more attention, more investment, and a tighter, more focused story. The good news? Conversations I’ve been having suggest that it will in 2011, and it’s about time. Read more of this post

Database Benchmarks – The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Yes, I know – not everyone believes database benchmarks are useful. My position is that there is value in benchmarks’ role in helping engineers wring out bottlenecks, bugs and performance impediments in their products. Berni Schiefer, Technical Executive , Information Management Performance and Benchmarks for DB2, MDM and SolidDB, recently told me that “every time we run [TPC-C] we are astonished at how effectively it hammers every element of the system. We always find bugs, room for tuning. It’s the nastiest, most punishing combination there is.” Read more of this post

More TDWI Notes – ParAccel Rolling On, HP Stalled, Vertica Leading Insurgents

On my second day at TDWI, I was in meetings all day – events like this are a great opportunity for analysts to catch up with many of the companies they follow at one time, and this particular one was packed with sponsors. Congrats to the folks who sell sponsorships – they had a packed exhibit hall, and a lot of very interested attendees. I got a chance to chat at a few booths (all buzzing), ask a few attendees some real-world questions (and was asked some surprising ones myself), and get a sense of the workload in the trenches (heavy and growing.)

Read more of this post

EMC Buys Greenplum – Big Data Realignment Continues

EMC’s acquisition of Greenplum, announced today as a cash transaction, reaffirms the obvious: the Big Data tsunami upends conventional wisdom. It has already reshaped the market, spawning the most ferment in the RDBMS (and non-R DBMS via the noSQL players) space in years. When I first posted on Greenplum over a year ago, I said that

Open source + capital has created an intriguing new model of rapid innovation in “mature” markets, and the database space – like BI – is not a done deal. It is indeed possible to escape the gravity well, if you execute. Greenplum is getting it done, and is among the new stars to watch.”

Why the open source reference? Greenplum uses a parallelization layer atop PostgreSQL (like Aster, another of the new breed of ADBMS.)

Now EMC has written the next chapter in that story. In the process, it adds a new piece (after literally dozens of others in the past few years) to its own portfolio, which already includes unstructured data (via Documentum) and virtualization (via VMWare), layered in among the industry-leading storage and information management pieces. Disruptive? You bet. Is EMC finished? I doubt it. Candidates? BI tools, ETL, MDM, data integration come to mind. Losers? At least one big one. Read on. Read more of this post

The Mainframe Skills Shortage Urban Myth

Contributed by Joe Clabby (www.clabbyanalytics.com)

In this CounterOpinion, we challenge the advice and opinions of the Gartner Group, a well-known and highly respected IT research and analysis firm, on the subject of IBM System z (mainframe) migration. In March, 2007, Gartner put forward research suggesting that, due to the aging of the current generation of System z managers, mainframe customers might someday find themselves short of the skilled labor they need to manage their systems.  As a result, Gartner recommended that organizations might want to consider moving from mainframes to other, “more modern” platforms. (This opinion is still available on the company’s web site — search for the “Impact of Generational IT Skill Shift on Legacy Applications” [document ID number: G00146492]). Since that first report, Gartner has published other reports suggesting that enterprises reevaluate their application portfolios — and move various applications to (again) “more modern” platforms. (Note: Gartner never quite articulates which more modern platforms it is talking about…).

Clabby Analytics has two major issues with Gartner’s perspective and advice:

  1. Where is the proof that there has been/will be a major decline in mainframe skills that should cause IT executives to abandon their mainframe platforms? And,
  2. Which “more modern” platform(s) does Gartner have in mind? Read more of this post

Oracle Exadata: Early Signs Promising

Exadata is looking good. In the past few months, I’ve had the chance to talk to several early adopters of Oracle Exadata V2, some in connection with a sponsored white paper Oracle has just published. It’s still early, but I see this product as a milestone, regardless of its commercial success. That is still to be determined, although I wouldn’t bet against it. How it will be affected by Oracle’s execution of the Sun acquisition is another open question, and the recent surprise layoffs, which showed that either the announced expectations were laughably off base or Ellison’s early announcements about  hiring plans were less than candid, don’t bode too well for the near term. Rob Enderle made some strong and provocative points in his guest post here. Read more of this post

Attunity – An Independent Alternative For Data Replication

Attunity (ATTUF), a small OTC-traded company out of Massachusetts, is quietly building up its base, expanding a 1000-customer foothold in real-time change data capture (CDC) and data replication that has made it one of the few remaining independent players standing. With Oracle’s acquisition of GoldenGate and SAP’s announced plan to acquire Sybase, many firms are thinking about having an alternative supplier. Attunity’s competitors these days include iWay and Progress DataDirect – few firms can offer robust support for data sources like RMS, VSAM, NonStop SQL, Enscribe and Adabas as well as common RDBMSs like DB2, SQL Server and Oracle, and that leaves Attunity a relatively wide-open opportunity. Attunity recently announced a 53% year-over-year growth in license revenues; it’s profitable (although GAAP profitability, while in sight, has yet to be achieved) and beginning to repay its debt. With less than $2M in revenues, it may well find itself an acquisition target, to boot.Attunity logo

Read more of this post