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In the early 1990's I was a consultant to Microsoft when the first alphas of SQL Server were tested as a replacement for Sybase on internal production systems. Those days were sweet because we were working directly with the SQL Server product developers and had turnaround of a few hours on issues. Microsoft started with the same code base as Sybase and followed the typical pattern of a catch-up player (demonstrated by Toyota going from a "cheap scrap iron 'TOY' import" to the current Lexus and Prius models).

For me, one of the distinguishing aspects of SQL Server evolution was the group's response to developer requests to make development easier, faster and thus, cheaper. From the addition of a shortcut key to execute TSQL (Alt-X) that my boss suggested, to the 'borrowing' of my tree control which became the Object Explorer in SQL Server Management Studio (and other products), the SQL Server product group have been very responsive. A tradition continued with the Visual Studio team.

For a few years I worked as a senior consulting architect to Satyam, customers wanted to understand our common recommendation to use SQL Server instead of Sybase. The reason was very simple: supply and demand of resources. The supply of skilled SQL developers was much larger than Sybase developers, which had several financial impacts:

  • Greater supply means not having to pay as great a premium to obtain expertise.
  • Time to staff up was significantly less, delivery happens sooner.
  • Projects are at less risk if unexpected staff turnover happens -- you can find a qualified replacement faster.

Today, I went to indeed.com and executed two searches with the results shown below:

Title Job Count Average Salary
Sybase Developer 4,946 $103,000
SQL Server Developer 56,195 $90,000

The Crimson Consulting Group has just published a white paper worth reading: Comparing the Business Value of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise 15.5. Perceptions vs. reality in the RDBMS marketplace (April, 2011). This paper does a detailed comparison between the current versions of these two products, and drills down into items such as total cost of ownership. 


There's a lot of good information in this white paper, read it here.