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SQL Server in the Hybrid Cloud

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The recent release of Microsoft SQL Server 2017 illustrates how the company is seeking to deliver their tools with an increasingly platform agnostic approach.  This is evidenced by the adoption of the “hybrid cloud” terminology, as well as the multi-platform nature of SQL Server 2017.  Let’s take a look at both.

Microsoft has been promoting the adoption of cloud-based services for nearly a decade.  Since its debut in February 2010, Microsoft Azure has been a key part of the company’s offerings.  However, it is not always possible to deploy cloud-only solutions.  Whether it is a matter of cost or due to stringent security requirements, some projects are required to be located on-premises.

This week at PASS Summit, Microsoft seems to indicate a shift in the approach the company is taking when the marketing around SQL Server is reviewed.  The firm is using the term “hybrid cloud” to describe the middle path between a traditional on-premises only installation and a completely cloud-only environment.  Run SQL Server on-premises as needed, use Azure SQL Database when the cloud is ok, and take advantage of the forthcoming Azure Database Migration Service when it is time to move an existing database to the cloud.

While this may seem to be a minor change in terminology, there is more.  SQL Server 2017 has native Linux support and adds the ability to be easily containerized.  Microsoft as a corporate entity certainly encourages customers to use Windows 10 / Windows Server as their host operating system; the SQL Team has the latitude to provide the best SQL database that they can without requiring lock-in to a Microsoft OS.  This allows developers and DBAs to use SQL Server where it best meets their needs based on their existing environments.

In addition, the newly announced Microsoft SQL Operations Studio is a cross-platform tool for managing databases on SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, and Azure SQL Data Warehouse.  This tool will run on Windows, Linux, and macOS, and is another example of this OS-agnostic approach.  Details of the tool remain limited, but it appeared to be an Electron-based application which would mirror the approach taken with VS Code.  This application is expected to be released in the near future, and developed in an open-source manner similar to VS Code.

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