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oraclevsmysqlvsoraclesqlSince their introduction in the 1980s, relational database management systems (RDBMS) have become the standard database type for a variety of industries. As their name implies, these systems are based on the relational model that organizes data into groups of tables referred to as relations. This post explores the history and features of three popular RDBMS: Oracle, MySQL, and SQL Server. The comparison should help you understand the differences between the systems, and if considering implementing a RDBMS, provide you with information that will help make a decision. If you are interested in learning more about how RDBMS work, there are many courses available. For example, an Oracle getting started course can introduce you to this platform and teach you detailed information about how it works.

Summary Feature Comparison

The following table includes information about the Oracle, MySQL, and SQL Server databases and how they compare.




SQL Server




GUI, SQL, Various

Language support

Many, including C, C#, C++, Java, Ruby, and Objective C

Many, including C, C#, C++, D, Java, Ruby, and Objective C

Java, Ruby, Python, VB, .Net, and PHP

Operating System

Windows, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, OS X, z/OS, AIX

Windows, Linux, OS X, FreeBSD, Solaris




Open source




IBM was the first company to develop a RDBMS, however, Oracle Corporation made history in 1980 by releasing its RDBMS, Oracle, for commercial use. Just a few years later the company would release a version of its system for IBM computers. Since its exhibition to the RDBMS market, Oracle has consistently led the way. According to Gartner, Oracle owned nearly 50% of the RDBMS market in 2011. In addition to opening up the commercial market for RDBMS, the Oracle Corporation also was the first company to develop a commercial-level version of SQL that was designed to manipulate data in a RDBMS using (at that time) queries and joins.


The first “real” release of the Oracle RDBMS was Oracle 2. This system supported only basic SQL features, and it was written in an assembly language. The following year, and for the next 10 years or so, Oracle Corporation released updates to its flagship database. Probably one of the reasons the Oracle RDBMS has managed to remain at the top of mighty RDBMS is linked to its product updates that are closely tied to changes in the market. Database buzzwords such as “scalable”, “programmable”, “distributed”, and “portable” are also tied to Oracle release. For example, in 1985 support for a client-server model was added in anticipation of a growing acceptance of network communication. As the Internet paved the way for the Digital Era, the Oracle RDBMS was updated to include a native Java virtual machine (JVM).

Oracle Database 12c is the most recent release of the RDBMS, and it includes the following features:

If you’re interested in how you code with Oracle SQL, an introduction to Oracle SQL course can provide the basics of the language.

SQL Server


Microsoft SQL Server entered the RDBMS market as a serious competitor in the mid 1990s when Microsoft purchased it from Sybase, and then released version 7.0.  The companies originally worked together to develop the platform to run on the IBM OS/2 platform. However, Microsoft eventually developed its own operating system (Windows NT), and wanted to work solo to create a database management for it. It would take several years for the Microsoft and Sybase to completely sever their ties. Sybase eventually changed it’s product name so that it would be completely different from the product sold to Microsoft. Microsoft SQL Server version 4.2 was the initial release.


In 2000, Microsoft released SQL Server 2000. The release was a significant milestone for the company because it marked the first release of the product where the original Sybase code was completely replaced. In the same vein as Oracle Corporation, Microsoft has attempted to enhance SQL Server to keep up with changing technology. SQL Server 2005 is an example. The eXtensible Markup Language (XML) received stamp of approval from W3C and started gaining ground in the late 1990s. One of the major new features of SQL Server 2005 was support for XML data. Other notable features of the flagship product include the introduction of SQL Server Always On (data management technology to decrease user downtime), support for structured and semi-structured data, enhanced compression, and several add-ons to support other products on the market. SQL Server 2012 was proclaimed as the last release to include native support for OLE. A SQL Server 2012 essentials course can offer more information about this platform and how to use it.

SQL Server 2014 is the latest release of SQL Server and includes the following features:



There are two unique aspects of MySQL in comparison to Oracle and SQL Server: it was not originally developed for commercial use and it is an open source database. The database platform was a happenstance as the individuals who developed it started out trying to use mSQL to interface with their database tables, and decided they needed a much more powerful interface. The initial phase of MySQL used an API leveraged from mSQL, enhancements that increased speed considerably, and other features that included the InnoDB storage engine, full text search, portability, and internationalization.

Another difference of the MySQL platform in comparison to the other two is that it is open source. The Digital Age spawned a movement in software development collaboration that has blossomed into a competitive market for databases and other software. According to market reports, there is an excess of 10 million installations of MySQL, which indicates it is quickly moving into the enterprise space.

The ownership of MySQL has transitioned from the product’s humble beginnings. The two most notable acquisitions are (1) in 2008 when Sun Microsystems acquired MySQL AB, the company that created MySQL, and (2) in 2010 when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems.


Oracle and SQL Server are considered tools that favor users with large enterprise systems, while MySQL is considered a tool that appeals most often to individuals interested in managing databases associated with their websites. As with Oracle and SQL Server, MySQL has released updates to its software just about every year. The original version was developed in the mid 1990s. The most notable changes to MySQL was in 2010, the time of the last acquisition in 2010. The enhancements to this release (GA release 5.5) included semisynchronous replication, custom partitioning, improved support for SMP and updates to the InnoDB I/O subsystem. If you are just learning about MySQL, you may be interested in learning more details about it. A MySQL database for beginners course is a good place to start your education.


This comparison shows just how close the databases are in three key areas. Considering your unique situation is probably more relevant for deciding which one to implement than determining which one is best.

Page Last Updated: November 2013

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