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Microsoft Releases SQL Server ODBC Driver for Red Hat Linux

It's been a long time coming, but Microsoft finally pushed out a 64-bit SQL Server Open Database Connectivity driver for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.

Microsoft released a 64-bit SQL Server Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) driver for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, which follows on a promise the company made to to deliver this driver as part of its SQL PASS Summit event announcements. This release is important for C/C++ developers using Linux operating systems and writing applications that tap Microsoft's newer relational database management systems. It provides sqlcmd and bcp utilities for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 users and works with SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2012 (formerly code-named "Denali").

The new driver can be downloaded here. A 32-bit version is planned for an unspecified future release, according to an MSDN FAQ page. One caveat is that "AlwaysOn," Microsoft's branding for disaster recovery and high-availability features in SQL Server, isn't supported in this release, but Microsoft is promising to add such support at an unspecified future date.

Additional Linux Support
While just Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 is supported now, Microsoft's FAQ suggested that it may add support for "SUSE, Solaris, and HP-UX" Linux operating systems in the future. The driver itself is not an open source product and Microsoft does not plan to support SQL Server directly on Linux, according to the FAQ.

The release is another expression of Microsoft's interactions with Linux at the interoperability level. It also shows that Microsoft is moving ahead with its roadmap change toward supporting open source ODBC-based APIs over its own proprietary Object Linking and Embedding Database (OLE DB) method. Microsoft will gradually step away from supporting its OLE DB provider, phasing it out over a seven-year period.

Microsoft has explained that its decision to shift to ODBC was based on customer feedback and its view that it will better facilitate tapping cloud databases, such as Microsoft SQL Azure. Microsoft plans to support SQL Azure connections in an "upcoming release" of this driver for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, according to the FAQ.

The shift also will help facilitate migrations from "legacy" databases to Microsoft SQL Server, including the forthcoming SQL Sever 2012, which is currently available as a release candidate. SQL Server 2012 will be the last Microsoft RDBMS product to support OLE DB.

In particular, the new driver for Red Hat Enterprise Linux makes things easier for Sybase migrations.

"For customers who want to move from Sybase to SQL Server, the SQL Server ODBC Driver for Linux allows C and C++ code to continue running in Linux environments," Microsoft's announcement explains.

OLE DB and Analysis Services
Microsoft's roadmap move to ODBC stirred controversy in a Microsoft forum thread because SQL Server Analysis Services isn't now supported via ODBC, potentially leaving some developers in a lurch. In response, Microsoft's T.K. Anand promised such support would be added, although a timeline wasn't discussed.

"As a result of the SNAC [SQL Server Native Client] OLE DB deprecation, Analysis Services will be enhanced in a future release to natively support ODBC for consuming data," Anand wrote in September. "At that time, customers can switch their BI [business intelligence] applications from SNAC OLE DB to SNAC ODBC. This switch should be relatively straightforward and require just updating the connection string in the Analysis Services DataSource object."

 

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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