SQL Server 2016 a Year Review

SQL Server 2016

It is the first week of the new year. It is around this time that I like to reflect on the year gone by and look forward to the year ahead. From a SQL Server perceptive, 2016 was a very interesting year indeed. Back in June we saw the release to market/manufacture (RTM) of SQL Server 2016. As is always with the case with every new release, the new SQL Server version brings some interesting new features including:

  • Security enhancements
  • Integration with analytic tools such as R and big data tool such as Hadoop
  • TEMPDB automatically configured with multiple data files
  • Live query statistics
  • Stretch databases – the ultimate in hybrid database with some tables on-premises and some in the Azure cloud
  • Temporal tables
  • High Availability- Always on Basic Availability Groups

Service Pack 1 (SP1) for SQL Server 2016 was also released towards the end of 2016. The main news here is the number of features that are now available in standard edition. These features were previously enterprise only features. This includes high availability features such as log shipping, database snapshots. Scalability and performance features such as, in-memory OLTP, table and index partitioning and data compression. For a full list you can view this link https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc645993.aspx.

What I find most interesting of all the new features is the integration with data analytics tools such as R and Hadoop. Microsoft are encouraging in-database analytics allowing you make decisions based on your data really quickly. Or if you prefer allow your data to make decisions for you. Depending on you approach.  In age when “Data Science” is popular job title and data/predictive analytics are key in company decision making. These features can only help expand the SQL Server market share.

SQL Server vNext

Microsoft also announced the next version of SQL Server in March 2016. This is known as SQL Server vNext (or SQL Server Version Next or some other variation on this). SQL Server vNext introduces one of the biggest changes of any version of SQL Server I can remember. It will run on both Windows and Linux. Microsoft are supporting SQL Server on non-Windows operating systems. The main driver behind this I suspect is the popularity of Docker containers. I think of Docker containers as light-weight virtual machine’s. The Docker eco-system is Linux based, so if Microsoft want to expend the SQL Server product and expand the SQL Server Market Share, selling to new customers running on Linux is a must. Also much of the ‘big data’, ’NOSQL’, ‘data analytic’ technologies such as Hadoop which SQL Server is looking to integrate with to provide a complete data analytics solution run on LINUX. So having all your technologies run on the same operating system must be appealing. Thirdly we have to consider the fact that Microsoft and SQL Server is now a Cloud first development company and the Microsoft Azure Cloud offers up Linux as an IaaS virtual machine. We you look at these key factors SQL Server running on Linux was inevitable. There is currently a preview of the next release of SQL Server. You can download the release from the Microsoft website using the following link https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/sql-server/sql-server-vnext-including-Linux and install SQL Server on Linux.

Conclusion

All in all, 2016 was a very interesting year to be a data professional working with SQL Server. I think 2017 will be very a very interesting year too. The next version of SQL Server will be a multi-platform environment. The fact we have preview release already suggests Microsoft are well along the path. Whether we will get an RTM of the next version of SQL Server remains to be seen. I suspect that in keeping with the two year major release strategy, it will be 2018 before the next version of SQL Server is released to market; however I’m merely speculating here.

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