Choosing the right database is a critical choice when building any software application. All databases have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to performance, so deciding which database has the most benefits and the most minor downsides for your specific use case and data model is an important decision. Below you will find an overview of the key concepts, architecture, features, use cases, and pricing models of MariaDB and SQL Server so you can quickly see how they compare against each other.
The primary purpose of this article is to compare how MariaDB and SQL Server perform for workloads involving time series data, not for all possible use cases. Time series data typically presents a unique challenge in terms of database performance. This is due to the high volume of data being written and the query patterns to access that data. This article doesn’t intend to make the case for which database is better; it simply provides an overview of each database so you can make an informed decision.
MariaDB vs SQL Server Breakdown
MariaDB can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or as a hybrid solution, and is compatible with various operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and macOS.
SQL Server can be deployed on-premises, in virtual machines, or as a managed cloud service (Azure SQL Database) on Microsoft Azure. It is available in multiple editions tailored to different use cases, such as Express, Standard, and Enterprise.
Web applications, transaction processing, e-commerce
Transaction processing, business intelligence, data warehousing, analytics, web applications, enterprise applications
Supports replication and sharding for horizontal scaling, as well as query optimization and caching for improved performance
Supports vertical and horizontal scaling, with features like partitioning, sharding, and replication for distributed environments
MariaDB is an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) that was created as a fork of MySQL in 2009 by the original developers of MySQL, led by Michael Widenius. The primary goal of MariaDB was to provide an open-source and community-driven alternative to MySQL, which was acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2008. MariaDB is compatible with MySQL and has enhanced features, better performance, and improved security. It is widely used by organizations worldwide and is supported by the MariaDB Foundation, which ensures its continued open-source development.
SQL Server Overview
Microsoft SQL Server is a powerful and widely used relational database management system developed by Microsoft. Initially released in 1989, it has evolved over the years to become one of the most popular database systems for businesses of all sizes. SQL Server is known for its robust performance, security, and ease of use. It supports a variety of platforms, including Windows, Linux, and containers, providing flexibility for different deployment scenarios.
MariaDB for Time Series Data
While MariaDB is not specifically designed for time series data, it can be used to store, process, and analyze time series data due to its flexible and extensible architecture. SQL support, along with analytics optimized storage engines like ColumnStore make it suitable for handling time series data at smaller levels of data volume.
SQL Server for Time Series Data
While Microsoft SQL Server is primarily a relational database, it does offer support for time series data through various features and optimizations. Temporal tables allow for tracking changes in data over time, providing an efficient way to store and query historical data. Indexing and partitioning can be leveraged to optimize time series data storage and retrieval. However, SQL Server may not be the best choice for applications requiring high write or query throughput specifically for time series data, as specialized time series databases offer more optimized solutions as well as a variety of developer productivity features that speed up development time for applications that heavily use time series data.
MariaDB Key Concepts
- Storage Engines: MariaDB supports multiple storage engines, each optimized for specific types of workloads or data storage requirements. Examples include InnoDB, MyISAM, Aria, and ColumnStore.
- Galera Cluster: A synchronous, multi-master replication solution for MariaDB that allows for high availability, fault tolerance, and load balancing.
- MaxScale: A database proxy for MariaDB that provides advanced features such as query routing, load balancing, and security.
- Connectors: MariaDB provides a variety of connectors to allow applications to interact with the database using various programming languages and APIs.
SQL Server Key Concepts
- T-SQL: Transact-SQL, an extension of SQL that adds procedural programming elements, such as loops, conditional statements, and error handling, to the standard SQL language.
- SSMS: SQL Server Management Studio, an integrated environment for managing SQL Server instances, databases, and objects.
- Always On: A suite of high availability and disaster recovery features in SQL Server, including Always On Availability Groups and Always On Failover Cluster Instances.
MariaDB is a relational database that uses the SQL language for querying and data manipulation. Its architecture is based on a client-server model, with clients interacting with the server through various connectors and APIs. MariaDB supports multiple storage engines, allowing users to choose the most suitable engine for their specific use case. The database also offers replication and clustering options for high availability and load balancing.
SQL Server Architecture
Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database that uses SQL for querying and manipulating data. It follows a client-server architecture, with the database server hosting the data and processing requests from clients. SQL Server supports both on-premises and cloud-based deployment through Azure SQL Database, a managed service offering in the Microsoft Azure cloud. SQL Server’s architecture includes components such as the Database Engine, which processes data storage and retrieval, and various services for reporting, integration, and analysis.
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MariaDB is fully compatible with MySQL, making it easy to migrate existing MySQL applications and databases.
MariaDB supports multiple storage engines, allowing users to choose the best option for their specific use case.
Replication and Clustering
MariaDB offers built-in replication and supports Galera Cluster for high availability, fault tolerance, and load balancing. Security: MariaDB provides advanced security features such as data encryption, secure connections, and role-based access control.
SQL Server Features
SQL Server offers advanced security features, such as Transparent Data Encryption, Always Encrypted, and row-level security, to protect sensitive data.
SQL Server supports scaling out through features like replication, distributed partitioned views, and Always On Availability Groups.
SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is a powerful platform for building high-performance data integration and transformation solutions.
MariaDB Use Cases
MariaDB is a popular choice for web applications due to its compatibility with MySQL, performance improvements, and open-source nature.
Organizations looking to migrate from MySQL to an open-source alternative can easily transition to MariaDB, thanks to its compatibility and enhanced features.
As a relational database MariaDB is a good fit for any application that requires strong transactional guarantees.
SQL Server Use Cases
SQL Server is commonly used as the backend database for enterprise applications, providing a reliable and secure data storage solution.
Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence
SQL Server’s built-in analytical features, such as Analysis Services and Reporting Services, make it suitable for data warehousing and business intelligence applications.
SQL Server’s performance and scalability features enable it to support the demanding workloads of e-commerce platforms, handling high volumes of transactions and user data.
MariaDB Pricing Model
MariaDB is an open-source database, which means it is free to download, use, and modify. However, for organizations that require professional support, the MariaDB Corporation offers various subscription plans, including MariaDB SkySQL, a fully managed cloud database service. Pricing for support subscriptions and the SkySQL service depends on the chosen plan, service level, and resource usage.
SQL Server Pricing Model
Microsoft SQL Server offers a variety of licensing options, including per-core, server + CAL (Client Access License), and subscription-based models for cloud deployments. Costs depend on factors such as the edition (Standard, Enterprise, or Developer), the number of cores, and the required features. For cloud-based deployments, Azure SQL Database offers a pay-as-you-go model with various service tiers to accommodate different performance and resource requirements.
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