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Windows Server Is Still a Thing and SQL Server Still Runs on Top of It

By: on October 18, 2018 in Hyper-V, Linux, SQL Server 2017, SQL Server 2019, Windows Server, Windows Server 2019

If you’ve been in hibernation, today you woke up to a world where Microsoft has embraced open source and Linux. What was once unthinkable is now happening. What is going on? Why am I even talking about this?

Since the introduction of SQL Server 2017 and the support for Linux-based deployments, I’ve had a steady stream of questions from C-levels on down to DBAs asking in essence this: “Do I need to abandon SQL Server on Windows Server and learn Linux?” I would use something stronger if this was a casual conversation, but the answer is an emphatic “NO!” SQL Server still runs just fine and is supported on Windows Server (including Windows Server 2019, which is just released). Support is not ending any time soon. Linux is just another option and there may be enhancements specific to each platform because of their differences. It’s not an “either/or” thing. So breathe, OK? If you have a use case for Linux, by all means deploy SQL Server on it.

Just last month at Ignite while working the SQL Server area, I heard a lot of these same statements, but this time from a largely non-SQL Server-centric crowd. Sure, SQL Server 2019 deepens things with things like AGs on containers and the Big Data Cluster story which is right now based on Linux-, not Windows-based containers. I am hoping they work out things so Windows-based containers are supported for SQL Server in these advanced configurations, but remember that Windows and containers is much newer than Linux and containers. Let’s see how this shakes out before you start having nervous sweats. The Windows Server story for containers is much better now than it was.

This isn’t the only thing I’ve been hearing. There’s a rumbling in some corners that many feel Microsoft is abandoning Windows Server and it’s all about Azure. That’s just simply not true. Do I think Microsoft’s marketing has been amiss the past few years with regards to Windows Server which has had an unfortunate effect of de-emphasizing it? Yes. I may be a Microsoft MVP, but that’s my honest opinion. Windows Server, quite frankly, hasn’t seen a lot of love and I want them to correct that. There are some awesome features such as Storage Spaces Direct (which I’ve blogged about and has its challenges with SQL Server, but it’s still a big win for Windows Server). People just don’t konw about them.

Let’s be honest: there has been a LOT of marketing/push for Azure, and I think people are hearing Azure in a way that says to them Microsoft does not care about Windows Server. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP (subcategory High Availability, i.e. Cluster), I’m a Windows Server MVP in addition to my SQL Server MVP award so I see both sides of the coin. I can tell you the Windows Server PMs give a hoot and there are a LOT of improvements in Windows Server 2019. Here’s a link to a blog post that links to many of the Ignite presentataions that talk about what’s new in Windows Server 2019.

While we’re at it, there’s also a negative impression around Hyper-V. As I am also a VMware vExpert, I will be the first to tell you that I see more vSphere than I do Hyper-V.. I am fluent in both hypervisros and have helped customers implement them. I conducted an informal poll yesterday on Hyper-V usage and by golly, there are people using it in the wild for on premises virtualization of SQL Server. That said, the predominant vendor I see is VMware. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. Hyper-V is a “just another” feature of WIndows Server, while vSphere is a product of VMware. I think it makes a fundamental difference in perception.

At the same time, I can see where these perceptions are coming from. I hope SQL Server ups its Windows Server game to not make people think support on it is going away, and Windows Server needs to be talked about in general more. I love Microsoft, but I’ll praise when necessary, and criticize when they need it. I’m doing the latter here, but it comes from a place of caring.

Do you feel SQL Server is de-emphasizing its use of Windows Server? Do you see that as a problem if it winds up being the case a few years down the road? Do you think Microsoft is abandoning Windows Server or due to the over emphasis on Azure, or has made it seem irrelevant? Do you think Hyper-V is still viable? Let me know your thoughts below.


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