It seems that the war between Microsoft and Linux has finally reached a truce. On Monday, Microsoft announced its plans to bring SQL Server to Linux.

The news was released in an official blog post by Scott Guthrie, the executive vice president of the cloud and enterprise group at Microsoft, alongside some updates about the new features of SQL Server 2016.

The porting of SQL Server to Linux may come as a surprise to some–with good reason, as former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once called Linux a “cancer.” But, the signs have been pointing to a deeper Microsoft integration with open source leaders for some time, especially since current CEO Satya Nadella was appointed in February 2014.

SEE: Transitioning from Windows to Linux Administration: A guide for newcomers (Tech Pro Research)

The linchpin in this new strategy came in April 2015, when Nadella declared that “Microsoft Loves Linux” during a webcast. So, Microsoft is now actively embracing open source, but what are they getting out of it?

First off, Microsoft’s revenue stream is shifting. As ZDNet’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols pointed out, Microsoft’s new money maker is Azure, its cloud platform and, toward the end of 2015, Linux made up roughly 25% of all instances on Azure and the number seemed to be trending up.

If Microsoft wants to push people to Azure, it needs to let users choose what they want to run. And, if that many users are running Linux, it makes sense to give them the option to run SQL Server as well. Al Gillen, group vice president of enterprise infrastructure at IDC, summed it up in the Microsoft blog post like this:

“By taking this key product to Linux, Microsoft is proving its commitment to being a cross platform solution provider. This gives customers choice and reduces the concerns for lock-in. We would expect this will also accelerate the overall adoption of SQL Server.”

SEE: Should the fight for the Linux desktop really matter? (TechRepublic)

Opening up their technologies also provides inroads to drive current users deeper into the product ecosystem. Just as Microsoft’s Mark Russinovich said that the opening up of .NET got “people started on other Microsoft solutions.”

Additionally, embracing open source and making a core product like SQL Server available on Linux also helps to add the kind of transparency and flexibility that Microsoft needs to stay competitive.

“Bringing SQL Server to Linux is another way we are making our products and new innovations more accessible to a broader set of users and meeting them where they are,” Guthrie said in the blog post.

The private preview of SQL Server on Linux is available now, and general availability will be sometime in mid 2017.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Microsoft is releasing SQL Server on Linux sometime in mid 2017, although it is available in technical preview today. So, companies running Linux will soon be able to run the standard SQL Server instead of options like MySQL or MariaDB.
  2. Microsoft continues to embrace Linux, because of how important it is to its core cloud products. About 25% of all instances on Azure are Linux, and that number could go up.
  3. As Microsoft fully shifts its business model, it may likely give more cross-platform updates a shot. Microsoft needs the transparency and flexibility of open source and it is pursuing that.