Whether you are a global enterprise in the Fortune 500 or a one-person shop operating out of your kitchen, the key to success in today’s business environment is the processing of data. Being able to effectively process data into usable and actionable information is how one gains an edge on the competition.

So it should come as no surprise that database management software for large enterprises has become big business for software companies like Microsoft and Oracle. Of course, that also means the competition between vendors of the software is intense and tends to be “no holds barred” from time to time.

Microsoft’s latest competitive twist is interesting. It will give enterprises a free license for SQL Server if they agree to purchase a Software Assurance subscription and migrate off of Oracle’s database management system.

Data is everything

In this era of big data and the Internet of Things, processing huge amounts of data properly with sophisticated database management systems, especially for large enterprises, is essential. Discovering actionable information that decision makers can rely on requires specific, dependable, and generally expensive software.

How expensive? Well, it is difficult to say. A database management system is often unique to the need of the enterprise. Installing an Oracle database system is likely to require hardware, software, and people to run and maintain both. For a large enterprise, the expense could easily reach millions of dollars.

And therein lies the problem with Microsoft’s free SQL Server offer.


The word “migration” sounds like such a pleasant endeavor. All an enterprise has to do is migrate from Oracle to SQL Server–but that is not nearly as simple as it sounds. Switching form one database management system to another is one of the most time-consuming and complicated procedures any enterprise can undertake.

Besides the change in software, enterprises must provide training to employees on the new applications. Any third-party applications will probably have to be changed or at least adapted to the new database format. There will likely be glitches and even downtime to contend with during the process. No part of the procedure will be pleasant at all.

To its credit, Microsoft realizes this. It’s offering access to support services designed to kick start the transition to any enterprise that takes it up on its offer of a free SQL Server license. But one has to wonder if that support is really enough to justify the switch.

Bottom line

SQL Server has been updated for 2016 and looks to be a credible alternative to any competitor’s product in the database management space. In many respects, one could argue that SQL Server is the better solution. So if you were planning on migrating away from Oracle, for whatever reason, Microsoft has given you yet another incentive to make the switch to SQL Server now.

A free SQL Server license and support to help with the migration could save your enterprise a good bit of money.

However, if your enterprise is deeply invested in the Oracle database management system and is at all satisfied with the results, I doubt a chance at a free SQL Server license is going to be enough to inspire a change of systems. At least, I would hope that your enterprise would have a better reason to change than the chance to get some free software.

Also read…

Your thoughts

Has your enterprise ever switched from one database management system to another? How painful was it?