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Why Would You?

I had a meeting with a client this afternoon and towards the end I was asked a question that stumped me. The question was not technical based; it was ‘why would you use SQL Server over Oracle?’ To be honest my experience with Oracle is fairly limited and to answer this question accurately would require someone who has field experience with both products. Although I have worked with Oracle in the past it has been in integration and development roles.
From what I read and from talking to Oracle DBA’s the big difference between SQL Server and Oracle appears to be the manageability of the database platform. The other major difference is that SQL Server comes with many features that Oracle charges additional for. Although this might have been the case in the past, many people would argue that unless someone purchases SQL Server Enterprise Edition they do not get access to all of the features of SQL Server. I thought the customer I had the meeting with today summed the difference between the two platforms perfectly with the following statement: ‘The biggest problem with SQL Server is that it has the word Microsoft in the product name’. So why do you think an organisation should choose Oracle over SQL Server?
– Peter Ward

I’ve had this discussion a thousand times. Instead of asking about the platform differences, ask about your staff differences:OS preference – if your sysadmin team only knows Windows, then it makes sense to use SQL Server to have a single support point. If your sysadmin team likes *nix, then you might want to go the Oracle route since you can deploy Oracle on AIX or other platforms.Developer tools – if your programmers are heavily Microsoft-centric, like if you’re a .NET shop, then it makes sense to go with SQL Server because your tools will usually integrate better. If you’re in a mostly Java or PHP shop, on the other hand, you may find easier development with Oracle.It’s easier to match your technology to your people than it is to buy a new platform and hire all-new skills for it. Databases don’t exist in a vacuum.
I don’t know that an organization should choose Oracle unless they had massive databases or needed more granular control than SQL Server gives you. Why choose SQL Server over Oracle? Price.
This is a question I have to answer frequently. I began my professional life as an Oracle admindeveloper. Now, however, I work only in SQL Server and haven’t touched Oracle very often since version 8i. I don’t pretend to be an Oracle expert any more, but I still know enough about it to comment on this question.As I see it, the principle difference is that SQL Server is tightly integrated with the Windows OS and performs much better (my opinion) on the windows OS than does Oracle. However, I would not argue BrentO’s point that the skill-set of the existing staff is also a critical consideration.Oracle’s advantage is that it can run on many intrinsically more powerful hardware platforms, UNIX for example. Its reputation for reliability is largely built on the fact that it often runs on more reliable OS and hardware, not that the database engine itself is more solid than SQL Server. If the enterprise is committed to the Windows platform, both in terms of hardware and staff skill-set, there is no question in my mind that SQL Server is the best choice. If it is not, then other factors come into play.Development and administration costs for Oracle on UNIX or other non-windows platforms is high compared to SQL Server, at least 2-3 times higher. The bar is also higher for an Oracle adminstrator and consequently harder to find and generally get higher salaries.
I would have to agree with the comments. The only way to answer the question of why SQL Server over other DBMS platforms is like a consultant – and that is ‘it depends’. It depends on the skills of the company, the existing infrastructure etc.
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Priceand if the company is heavily using .Net code and Windows-shop for most servers, SQL Server makes senseI also believe there are more SQL Server resource compared to Oracle, simply due to volume of SQL Server instances & users out there. To me, SQL Server is a great overall product, getting better at every version since 7.0 and 2000 with more to come. And…. it pays my salary, what’s not to like? :p

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