Microsoft’s database product is out, but will your organisation miss out if it doesn’t upgrade?
With mainstream support for SQL Server 2012 coming to an end next year, now is the time to think about upgrading to the latest version of its database product, SQL Server 2016. But for many organisations, there has to be a good reason for the update. Microsoft has made a number of improvements to the latest version of its database software. Here are five great reasons to consider upgrading.
SQL Server 2016 has a number of new features enabling deep analytics and integration with Big Data. One such feature is Polybase; this bridges the gap between SQL and Hadoop and enables a SQL developer to write standard T-SQL queries that can interrogate a Hadoop cluster and return data without the need to understand Java, Map/Reduce, Hive or other Hadoop-related concepts.
Enterprises can use existing SQL Server tools and T-SQL to investigate unstructured and semi-structured data, all within the well-known SQL Server environment.
Enterprises are looking to speed up how their databases perform. SQL Server 2016 has improved the in-memory OLTP technology introduced in SQL Server 2014. The technology works by moving select tables into memory and compiling select stored procedures into native code. It is completely compatible with standard x86 server hardware and uses a new optimistic multi-version concurrency control mechanism that has been optimised for memory-resident data. This means it boasts an up to 30 times improvement in transaction performance depending on the workload.
Better integration with Azure cloud services
More and more enterprises are embracing the cloud. The database software is showcasing its hybrid cloud capabilities with its SQL Server Stretch Database. This is a new Azure companion service that enables customers to extend data from an on-premise SQL Server infrastructure to Azure. The Stretch Database service makes remote query processing possible by providing compute and storage in a way that’s completely transparent to the application.
PolyBase also has the ability to connect directly with Azure blob storage. It has also made improvements to its Backup to Microsoft Azure to support block blobs instead of page blobs.
There is also a new Azure service called SQL Data Warehouse that supports databases of up to 60TB. It is optimised for data warehousing with extremely parallel processing for queries but a more limited subset of T-SQL is available.
Building intelligent apps
The combination of in-database advanced analytics (using R) and in-memory technology will allow enterprises to build a new breed of intelligent applications. R is a popular programming language for use in statistical analysis. It can be used to uncover patterns, identify trends or even build predictive models.
There is native in-database support for open source R and multi-threaded RevoScaleR functions available via R Services. BI developers and applications can make parameterised calls to the R runtime from SQL code or stored procedures to get R computed result sets or data visualisations.
This is a feature in SQL Server 2016 that helps enterprises protect sensitive data, such as credit card numbers or national identification numbers. It enables the encryption of sensitive data inside client applications and never reveals the encryption keys to the Database Engine (SQL Database or SQL Server).
It provides a separation between those who own the data (and can look at it) and those who manage the data (but should not be able to access it). Organisations can now store data outside of their direct control (such as in a public cloud) and the data is encrypted whether it is at rest, in use, or on the move.