Image source: Microsoft.

What happened?
Software giant Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has announced that it is launching a new version of its popular SQL server software for Linux. This will bring a consistent data platform across multiple operating systems and provide greater flexibility to customers, according to Microsoft cloud exec Scott Guthrie.

Does it matter?
In no uncertain terms, bringing SQL to Linux is a massive strategic shift for Microsoft, although not entirely unexpected considering the company's broader shift under CEO Satya Nadella. The relatively new CEO has already made cross-platform support for Microsoft's software and services an underpinning of his "cloud-first, mobile-first" strategy. This idea is also reinforced by Microsoft's recent acquisition of Xamarin, a tool for cross-platform app development.

Nadella has noted that providing the server operating system is no longer the most important piece of the puzzle. It's all about the data now, and Microsoft needs to expand on the ways that it can help enterprise customers store, access, and analyze all that data. In broadening its horizons, Microsoft will also put more pressure on Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), which leads the market for database software and also supports Linux.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.