SQL 2012 and Oracle are relational database management systems (RDBMS) designed to store, organize, and present large amounts of data in tables. Users should consider their organization’s needs, existing software infrastructure, and technical knowledge when weighing the two platforms. Except for their handling of “Big Data,” SQL 2012 and Oracle offer comparable features, though the preponderance of Microsoft’s Business Intelligence software may make it a more attractive choice for many users.
Oracle’s trump over past SQL incarnations was usually rooted in the former’s ability to analyze and store Big Data. Microsoft’s response was to integrate Hadoop into SQL 2012, thus giving SQL the ability to examine and coherently present overwhelming amounts of unrelated datasets. It should be noted, however, that Hadoop will not be available for SQL 2012 until mid-2012. It remains to be seen whether this integration will meet user expectations for Big Data analysis. Until such time, Oracle has already released their Big Data Appliance featuring Hadoop and Cloudera; users with the immediate need to analyze unstructured massive datasets throughout thousands of networked computers might not want to wait for Hadoop’s integration into SQL 2012.
One simple point to consider is the question of the user’s operating system. SQL 2012 runs only on PCs running Server 2008, Windows 7, or Vista. Oracle’s supported systems are more versatile; these include Linux, Windows, Unix, OS/390, Mac OSX, and OpenVMS. This broad approach, while flexible, also potentially presents a more convoluted installation process than the narrowly-focused SQL 2012.
Microsoft’s hegemony gives SQL 2012 users their entire Business Intelligence (BI) suite. SQL integrates with SharePoint, PowerPivot, Excel, Analysis Services, Integration Services, Master Data Services, and others. The widespread use of these tools makes finding online support relatively simple, as does the singularity of their operating system. Oracle Enterprise Edition (Oracle XE) offers comparable functionality, though if a company or user has already licensed much of Microsoft’s BI software, they may balk at the cost of acquiring another license.
Along with cost, users must consider the type and scope of probable use when choosing between the two platforms. SQL 2012 requires licensing fees on a “per-core” basis. Oracle offers a free version of Oracle XE with some caveats. These limitations include a 4 GB limitation on stored data, a 1 GB cap on Random Access Memory usage, and the free edition will not use more than on Central Processing Unit, even if the host machine contains more. The licensed version of Oracle XE also bases its cost on the “per-core” structure.
Users should consider their operating system, budget, existing BI infrastructure, and Big Data needs before committing to either SQL 2012 or Oracle. From a functionality standpoint, most users will find either to be adequate for their Business Intelligence needs if Microsoft successfully integrates Hadoop into SQL 2012.