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Microsoft Unveils New SQL Server 2016 and Azure Data Lake Previews

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a number of data-related releases, including a new community technology preview (CTP) of its upcoming SQL Server 2016 product.

CTP3 of SQL Server 2016 will be available during week's PASS Summit, said Joseph Sirosh, head of Microsoft's new Data Group, in a blog post. He also announced a preview of Azure Data Lake Store and Analytics services, and a preview of Azure SQL Database In-Memory OLTP and Operational Analytics.

Some of the important new features CTP3 is bringing to Microsoft's flagship relational database management system (RDBMS) include:

  • Always Encrypted technology, based on projects from Microsoft Research, that protects data at rest and in motion.

  • Built-in SQL Server R Services, a new workload for fast, predictive, in-database analytics.

  • PolyBase -- built into SQL Server to extract value from unstructured and structured data using T-SQL.

  • Stretch Database for the active archiving of cold data to the Microsoft Azure cloud.

  • Native JSON support to offer better performance and support for many types of data.

  • SQL Server Enterprise Information Management (EIM) tools and Analysis Services upgrades for better performance, usability and scalability.

  • Faster hybrid backups, high availability and disaster recovery scenarios to backup and restore on-premises databases to Azure and place SQL Server AlwaysOn secondaries in Azure.

"This preview also includes new Business Intelligence (BI) capabilities for SQL Server Analysis Services and SQL Server Reporting Services, and we plan to include mobile BI capabilities in the coming months to deliver end-to-end BI solutions for on-premises implementations," said Sirosh, who was just recently promoted to lead the newly combined Data Group. Sirosh replaced T.K. "Ranga" Rengarajan, who left to lead the Microsoft's Global Development Centers. As part of the reorg, the Data Group was streamlined to oversee all of Microsoft's database and analytics initiatives, including SQL Server and the Cortana Analytics Suite.

Azure Data Lake, a component of the Cortana Analytics Suite, has previews available now for the Store and Analytics service. "Azure Data Lake offers unbelievable analytic processing power and an exabyte-scale Big Data store as a fully managed service," Sirosh said. "It includes all the capabilities required to make it easy for developers, data scientists and analysts to store data of any size, shape and speed, and do all types of processing and analytics across platforms and languages."

The Azure SQL Database preview highlights In-Memory OLTP and the general availability of Operational Analytics. "In-Memory OLTP dramatically improves transaction processing performance," Sirosh said. "Our In-Memory Columnstore and In-Memory OLTP can naturally be used together in the same cloud solution for high-throughput transaction processing and real-time operational analytics."

Microsoft has said In-Memory OLTP provides up to 30 times the performance of disk-based transactions. "With these enhancements, we also introduce the unique capability to use our in-memory columnstore delivering 100x faster queries with in-memory OLTP for in-memory performance and real-time operational analytics," the company said.

Sirosh noted Microsoft's move to a cloud-first product development model that sees new features proven and optimized in the cloud for a better on-premises experience. "In addition, we offer a consistent experience across on-premises and cloud with common development and management tools and common T-SQL," he said.

As the PASS Summit progresses, more news will be available on Microsoft's Server & Cloud Blog.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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