This occurred to me recently, and I'm wondering what some of you think of as the answer to this question: when will you expect to no longer install SQL Server?
It's not that I think many of you are retiring from SQL Server work. It's not that your organization won't use SQL Server. It's that I wonder if we'll stop installing SQL Server on the host OS. We'll make use of SQL Server in new ways, which won't require an installation.
Lately I've seen a lot of tweets, post, and more about SQL Server in containers or Kubernetes. Anthony Nocentino and Andrew Pruski are doing lots of work here, and I'm moving my work to containers for demos. With a container, you don't really install SQL Server. Instead you install the Docker engine and then "start" a pre-installed SQL Server image inside a container. You might modify this before starting it, but you aren't installing a version and upgrades are pulling a new image and then restarting the new image. With the better support for containers on Linux, this means I'm also starting to think Linux first.
Plenty of you are also looking to do more work in Azure, AWS, or some other cloud service where you likewise don't need to install SQL Server. In those cases, you're really working with a service that implements a database, not an instance. There are some variations, such as the Azure Managed Instance, but you still don't need to install SQL Server. You apply your database code, point your application, and off you go.
SQL Server 2019 is starting to feel like the first version where I'll be looking to ignore the SQL Server instance and think in terms of containers most of the time. I'll probably still install it, as I need to test and check things, plus, I'm still learning how to work containers into my workload, but I'm guessing that with SQL Server 2020, or 2021, I'll just stop installing SQL Server.
Unless I need to document the installation for some of you, but in that case, I'll try to get you to stop installing the binaries and just use a container.