It’s not easy moving up from Oracle’s version to Microsoft’s
Microsoft has a clear lead over Oracle in database management systems (DBMS) especially at enterprise level. That’s according to independent market analyst Gartner, which puts Microsoft in leadership position in its ‘Magic Quadrant’ of DBMS. The consensus among analysts and developers is that Oracle has its advantages in smaller projects, whereas Microsoft SQL Server 2016 is a must for enterprise work.
So, one might assume that since they’re both SQL that if you can use one, you can work with the other. Though their origins are the same, the years have seen Microsoft’s SQL Server take a very different path from Oracle. They do things very differently now.
The Oracle devotee will have much catching up to do, says analyst Clive Longbottom, senior researcher at Quocirca. “If a developer has been using Oracle for the past 10 years, they will have learned Oracle SQL. Understandably, they may well have believed that they had, in reality, learned SQL, as this is what Oracle led them to believe. But it doesn’t quite work out like that,” says Longbottom. That developer might get a great new job, based on the false premise that they have ten years of SQL knowledge and that, given that their new employers use Microsoft SQL Server, seems that they are perfectly qualified.
This is not the case unfortunately. “One day, they will write a query and the computer will say no,” says Longbottom. Which could be an embarrassing crisis. The problem they will have to cover up in their new job is that many of the habits they learned in the last decade are Oracle specific. So they will struggle to pretend everything is alright while they quietly try to catch up and find out which basic SQL calls work across both Oracle and Microsoft. Until they have got up to speed with all the changes the Senior Developer will look comparatively weak against someone who has two years of Microsoft SQL Server knowledge, as their rival will know the special Microsoft SQL calls. As Longbottom says, everyone will be wondering why the developer with a decade of experience doesn’t know these calls. Were they over stating their experience on their job application?
Oracle can have lower initial costs, but corporate buyers are not impressed by false economies. The ‘bring your own consumer technology’ to work trend has helped to make everyone appreciate the importance of robust security. Which is something that Microsoft has been recognised for in this space, by analysts such as Gartner.
To exemplify why details matter, we should examine some of the different ways the two systems process data type conversions.
For example, anyone used to working with Oracle is used to working with one numeric data type whereas SQL Server offers a much wider choice of options. So the Oracle coder isn’t used to being able to optimise the storage of numbers. They won’t understand how to predict how much storage their table will need. Oracle requires one bit per value of 16, since data is stored in binary, not as actual numbers.
Data Compression in SQL Server comes with the Enterprise Edition. With Oracle you have to buy the Advanced Compression feature.
The long and short of it is that Oracle will need more storage space. That’s just one example of where cheap adds up to a false economy. The devil really is in the detail.