Microsoft Offers Free Database Software to Lure Oracle Customers

  • Jing Cao
  • March 14 2016, 6:30am EDT

(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. is offering free licenses for its database software to current Oracle Corp. customers in its latest effort to wrestle market share from its competitor.

Companies considering switching can apply to get Microsoft’s new SQL server software at no cost. Microsoft is even offering free training for database administrators accustomed to using Oracle. There are caveats, however: the offer doesn’t include hardware and customers have to sign up (and pay for) a three-year Software Assurance license, for support and services. Essentially, only the main SQL software is free.

“For every instance of Oracle you have, we’ll give you a free SQL Server license,” Judson Althoff, president of Microsoft North America, said at an event in New York Thursday to unveil SQL Server 2016. “We’ll help invest in migration costs, put engineers on the ground to help you migrate from Oracle.”

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella is trying to boost Microsoft’s database sales, which help companies store and analyze information. Its goal is to take customers from top vendor Oracle, whose share of the market was twice that of Microsoft’s in 2014, according to IDC. Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled plans to make SQL software available for Linux systems, where Oracle is a market leader.

At the list price, Oracle’s offering -- including data warehousing and business intelligence tools -- is 12 times more expensive than Microsoft’s SQL Server, which costs about $320,000, Althoff said. Features such as security, analytics and statistics software are built in and included in SQL’s total cost. Some new capabilities of SQL Server 2016 include end-to-end data encryption as well as the ability to make queries for information stored in the cloud quickly using a technology called stretch database.

--With assistance from Dina Bass

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