- Microsoft’s flagship database software used to be a runner-up to Oracle but has gained favor among IT buyers in recent years.
- Rohan Kumar, the Microsoft executive in charge of SQL Server, said that’s because the company made changes to the software to focus on top enterprise customers and make it easy for developers to use.
- Kumar also said Microsoft’s cloud-computing and data-analytics services were to thank because customers are planning for a long-term shift to the cloud.
- Oracle did not respond to a request for comment.
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Microsoft’s flagship database software recently surpassed longtime market leader Oracle, at least by one measure.
Rohan Kumar, the executive behind Microsoft’s software, said the company achieved that feat through a “laser” focus on top enterprise customers by making it easy to use and Microsoft’s full portfolio of services, including cloud computing and data analytics.
Customers used to use Microsoft’s software SQL Server mostly to run lower-tier workloads, while they turned to Oracle for anything “mission-critical.” But SQL Server has gained prominence in recent years: In the past two, it became the top choice in Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s annual survey of IT buyers, knocking Oracle down to the No. 2 spot, according to Kash Rangan, the managing director of global research.
Oracle did not respond to a request for comment.
While the cloud market gets more attention, Rangan said, the database market is the “highest-value item in the IT stack.” And Microsoft somehow managed to rise from second- or third-ranked to No. 1.
“My hypothesis on what foundationally changed us and put us right at the top of the data platforms is not only do we have this deep understanding of the enterprise customer market, but also Microsoft’s portfolio of services, including cloud computing and data analytics,” Kumar, the corporate vice president of Azure Data, said this week at Bank of American’s 2020 Global Technology Conference.
Microsoft has made substantial investments and changes in SQL Server, such as improving latency and expanding the types of data it works with, and keeping a “very laser — and intentional — focus on meeting the needs of the highest class of demanding enterprise customers,” Kumar said.
One of the ways Kumar said Microsoft did this is by building developer tools that make the software easy to use: Developers who wanted to build a high-performance application “didn’t have to be a rocket scientist,” he said.
Finally, chief information officers want a company they can bet on long term as databases move to the cloud, Kumar said, where Microsoft has a solid track record.
Gartner last year predicted 75% of all databases would be moved to a cloud platform by 2022. Microsoft Azure is generally considered the No. 2 cloud platform behind Amazon Web Services.
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