SQL Server 2016 confirms Microsoft’s commitment to on-premises data platforms


 Gavin Payne is a principal architect for Coeo, a SQL Server and Azure professional services company, and a Microsoft Certified Architect and Microsoft Certified Master. His role is to guide and lead organisations through data platform transformation and cloud adoption programmes. 

SQL Server 2016’s arrival is reassuring news for data platform administrators and developers who worry they’ll get left behind if they can’t adopt Microsoft’s cloud services. The next version of Microsoft’s database server platform - due in early 2016 – includes new cloud related features but also significant enhancements for data platforms regardless of where they’re deployed.

Although most organisations would appreciate having the option to move their database servers to the cloud, they can be one of the hardest workloads to migrate. Their size and scale, fast integration links to other systems and application vendors not supporting public cloud platforms are all hurdles IT teams currently face in their journey to the cloud.

SQL Server 2016 brings good news

SQL Server 2016 brings good news for organisations who’d like to use the cloud but aren’t always able to. The product’s new features confirm that Microsoft recognises their challenges and wants to keep their on-premises SQL Server deployments as modern and feature rich as their Azure hosted relations. Developers and administrators will be able to use almost all of the latest version’s new features regardless of where they deploy SQL Server. However, Microsoft have also created some that specifically use the scalability of Azure to enhance an organisation’s database servers.

New features for SQL Server – wherever it’s deployed

Scalability, availability, functionality and security are the focus of the SQL Server 2016 database engine’s new features – there’s an equally long list of new features for SQL Server’s analytics capabilities.  However, those I’m already advising the organisations I work with to think about adoption roadmaps for are:

  • Query Data Store – the ability to have every query’s execution plan history stored and reviewed. The tool to finally help answer why a query ran quickly yesterday but slowly today.
  • Temporal Database – There are many ways to create your own solution to see how a table’s data looked for a specific historic point in time, but none as simple to use as this new native SQL Server feature.
  • PolyBase – Organisations want the ability to store and query un-structured data in services such as Hadoop, even if they’re not ready to actually start doing it yet. SQL Server’s PolyBase feature allows a single T-SQL query to handle both structured SQL Server data and un-structured Hadoop data. Clever stuff.

There are many other new features in SQL Server 2016 – I’ve just picked the few I think will have the biggest benefit – however, Microsoft’s data sheet here gives a good overview of the complete range of new functionality.

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