Delivering the keynote address at the PASS Summit 2017 in Seattle this week, Microsoft’s general manager of database systems, Rohan Kumar, found himself dealing with a sports rivalry as some of his colleagues from Texas showed up on stage, in the middle of Seahawks Country, wearing Dallas Cowboys jerseys.
But the more interesting rivalry was on display in the exhibit hall, where representatives of Amazon Web Services, — the leading public cloud vendor and Microsoft Azure competitor — were talking to attendees in the middle of a conference focused largely on Microsoft database technologies. Amazon was a gold sponsor of the event, with reserved seats up front for the keynote.
AWS was promoting its Relational Database Service (RDS), which offers Microsoft’s SQL Server relational database management system as one of its available engines, along with Oracle, MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, and its own Amazon Aurora technology.
Google also had a role at the event as a silver sponsor. Google Cloud has publicly stated its ambition of becoming the leading cloud platform for big companies that run Microsoft’s Windows Server and SQL Server.
What’s remarkable is that this scene isn’t all that remarkable in this day and age. As tech companies have increasingly made their technologies work together, they’ve found themselves cooperating in many areas even as they continue to compete in many others.
“It’s amazing,” Kumar said in an interview after his keynote. “Obviously our intention is to make Azure the first and best around SQL, there’s no question about it. But choice is a big part of the thing that’s guiding us.”
The conference this week was organized by PASS, the Professional Association for SQL Server, an independent organization of which Microsoft is a founding member.
Microsoft has benefitted from expanding its horizons. The company this week announced a record 500,000 trials of SQL Server 2017 in the month since its official release. The preview version of SQL Server 2017 was downloaded an estimated 2 million times prior to the official release at Microsoft’s Ignite conference.
Kumar credits the interest in part to broader availability of SQL Server across Linux distributions and Docker containers, which reduces the barrier to trying out the latest version. Microsoft has also been focusing on tighter communication with customers, taking in their feedback and rolling out updates more frequently.
Microsoft isn’t done expanding beyond its traditional Windows footprint. As part of its announcements at the conference, Microsoft gave a preview of the new SQL Operations Studio, which the company describes as a “free, lightweight tool for modern database development and operations on Windows, Mac or Linux machines for SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, and Azure SQL Data Warehouse.”
More than 5,000 data professionals attended the PASS Summit 2017 at the Washington State Convention Center this past week. Watch the archived live stream of the Microsoft keynote below.