SQL Server 2016 -- A Sneak Peek at Microsoft’s Latest Database Masterwork

| July 19, 2016

SQL Server 2016 -- A Sneak Peek at Microsoft’s Latest Database Masterwork

After two years of silence since the last upgrade in 2014, Microsoft announced in early May the arrival of SQL Server 2016. A relational database management system (RDMS) for the enterprise environment, SQL Server is a key tool in facilitating Reporting Services, Analysis Services, and other essential technologies used to fuel mission-critical solutions.

As of May 27th, Microsoft has made testing a preview of SQL Server 2016 available to the public. Testers can download SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Preview (CTP) 2 from the software developer’s website, allowing users to test the sneak peek by using a virtual machine in Microsoft Azure.

According to Microsoft itself, this latest upgrade is “the biggest leap forward in Microsoft’s data platform history.” At a glance, SQL Server 2016 includes real-time operational analytics, evolutionary visualizations for mobile devices, built-in advanced analytics, and cutting-edge security technologies.

If that sounds like the SQL platform your company is ready for, Infidati has compiled the highlights right here for you to sniff out before you download your tester version.

7 Top Features of SQL Server 2016 Business Intelligence Professionals Need to Know

Similar to recent versions of SQL Server, 2016 allows organizations to gain even deeper insights into big data with new capabilities that can transform business intelligence. Chiefly important, this latest version allows you to perform advanced analytics directly within the database, and enhances the mobile experience with rich visuals and hybrid cloud scenarios. The newest version also builds on standard SQL functions including transaction control, exception and error handling, row processing, and declared variables.

Now for the fun features of 2016. Here are just seven of many that are invaluable to the scalability of your database:

Polybase: Previously only available in Microsoft’s Analytics Platform System , Polybase is out-of-the-box in SQL Server 2016. Polybase is a distributed query technology that allows users to query non-relational data in Hadoop, blobs, files, and existing relational data in SQL Server. The bonus of Polybase is that you can execute all these capabilities without necessarily moving data, which streamlines data accessibility whether it’s located on-premises or in the cloud.

Always Encrypted Technology: Data breaches and viruses run rampant on the internet, and encryption is one way to combat hackers and prevent data theft. SQL Server versions of the past have supported column-level encryption, encryption at rest, and encryption in transit, yet still requiring users to configure each encryption independently, too easily leading to mistakes. 2016 steps in to save the day with Always Encrypted, a technology that functions on application-level security so the data remains encrypted in transit, at rest, and while active in the database.

Stretch Database: Anyone in the business intelligence (BI) industry knows that enterprise storage is not cheap. In an attempt to reduce storage and processing costs, Microsoft has created a hybrid feature known as Stretch Database. This function operates on the assumption that a portion of your tables (configurable or automated) will be moved securely into an Azure SQL Database in the cloud. When you query the tables, the query optimizer differentiates between rows on your server and in Azure, dividing the workload intuitively. Furthermore, you’re only charged for the SQL Database in Azure when queries are activated. You do pay for Azure Blob storage, but this is significantly cheaper than most enterprise storage.

Master Data Management: With large data deployments comes the need for master data management that systematically feeds and updates from numerous operational applications. If you currently use SQL Server Master Data Services (MDS), you’ll be able to enjoy the enhancements of SQL Server 2016 in regards to this technology. With 2016 you’ll experience improved performance when managing large models, along with optional row-level compression. You should also notice an improved administrative interface and new configurable retention settings.

Analysis Services Enhancements: You can look forward to several more enhancements to Analysis Services with SQL Server 2016, including enterprise readiness, modeling platform, BI tools, SharePoint integration, and hybrid BI. Enterprise readiness improvements include accelerated performance with unnatural hierarchies, relational OLAP distinct count, drill-through queries, and semi-additive measures. Database Console Commands also backup Analysis Services Multidimensional Mode by supporting detecting issues with multidimensional OLAP indexes.

JSON Support: Just as SQL Server 2016 supports direct querying to Hadoop, the new version also supports Java Script Notation (JSON). Similar to way the way XML support cooperates with FOR JSON and OPENJSON, 2016 facilitates swift transference of JSON data into tables. Much more lightweight than XML, JSON enables convenient data interchange that steps up processing speed and ease of use.

Query Data Store: One roadblock users have experienced with past SQL Server versions has been that query optimizer changes negatively affect performance. To overcome this challenge, 2016 includes the Query Store, a feature that maintains a history of query execution plans, complete with performance data. This implement quickly identifies queries that have slowed, allowing administrators or developers to enforce an older, better plan if necessary. Basically, because of the historical tracking, you’ll always have a palette of options to lubricate query processes.

Upgrades Lead to Progress

With some programs, aspects of upgrades may seem to be depreciating in functionality, depending on the version. However, Microsoft’s SQL Server is shaping up to be the next level of RDMS your company needs to grow amid the blinding speed of advanced cloud technology. Expected to ship in 2016, test the C2 version now or keep your eyes peeled for the official ship date of the latest SQL Server next year.

For more info on SQL Server 2016 and how a RDMS can benefit your business, get in touch with us today.