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Not trying to start a war here, but I would like some thoughts.

I work for a small nonprofit that is eligible for generous charity licensing from Microsoft. I am the database/web coder and my background is with open source stacks. I am most comfortable using PHP and MySQL.

That said, we are undertaking some large projects and am wondering whether it'd be worth investing in MS Server 2012 as a data staging and reporting system. It would not be used for any production purposes. I am most interested in the server studio management's advanced capabilities for importing and exporting data and for little productivity boosts like Intellisense.

What do you think? Is it worth the 80% discounted costs, or should we remain open source?

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Agree with some of the points in Ayende's blog (mainly about the buggy UI pre-2012), but some are a bit spurious or overdone. Such as version control; we have our packages in TFS, and .DTSX == XML. That's not to say there isn't a steep learning curve with SSIS. –  Grignar Grenac Feb 11 '13 at 19:38
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If you need more horse power or functionality, check PostgreSQL. It's open source (BSD style license), works great with PHP and comparable with SQL Server functionality. Don't forget to use a connection pool like pgBouncer or pgPool (open source as well) –  Frank Heikens Feb 11 '13 at 20:43
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I've VTC'd this as any answer given is a matter of opinion, rather than fact. I would however encourage you to visit the site chat room where you would undoubtedly trigger a lively debate. Personally I'd suggest that with a reporting focus and 80% discount, SQL Server is worth consideration. 180 day trial download would be a good place to start. –  Mark Storey-Smith Feb 11 '13 at 23:16
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Don't forget 2012 has great integration with PowerPivot/PowerView which allows for millions of rows vs Excel. –  Ali Razeghi Feb 11 '13 at 23:32
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@AliRazeghi I've been doing some work with PP/SSAS Tabular/PowerView lately... I could wax lyrical for hours. –  Mark Storey-Smith Feb 11 '13 at 23:35
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closed as not constructive by Mark Storey-Smith, Paul White, Jon Seigel, Marian, AlexKuznetsov Feb 12 '13 at 13:25

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Not worth it for the reasons you gave, especially considering that you're not going to use it for production purposes. Reporting Services is a great platform for reporting, but I'm sure there are Open Source tools and frameworks to help you with that for PHP / MySQL. Ditto Integration Services, especially in 2012 (much better IDE for developing packages) it's a great tool for ETL, data staging and other import / export work, but probably overkill for you.

I'd definitely stick with the open source for now - it's always going to be cheaper for licencing ;-). Especially as the cost model for SQL Server 2012 shifted to a different per core model. We had to disable cores on recent deployments to bring down licencing costs, as we'd bought hardware before-hand (on assumptions of the same cost model as before). Funnily, enough that's how I started out on SQL Server - with a "we must port this to SQL Server, because Oracle licencing just got too expensive" project.

I look after about 16TB of high-transaction throughput SQL Server production databases for international clients. So definitely not anti-SQL Server and make plenty of use of all those tools you mention.

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