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It's Official: SQL Server v.Next Is SQL Server 2017 and It's Ready for Production

Microsoft on Wednesday released a production-ready community technical preview (CTP) 2.0 of SQL Server v.Next, which the company also confirmed will officially be called SQL Server 2017.

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft, revealed the SQL version and naming news, along with a raft of data platform announcements during a new online event called Microsoft Data Amp.

On track to ship roughly a year after SQL Server 2016, this new version of Microsoft's flagship database is highly anticipated for bringing Linux support to SQL Server. The CTP 2.0 is production-ready on both Windows and Linux. To underscore that the Linux versions are ready for prime time, a demo during the Data Amp event involved running SQL Server on Linux via Docker from an Apple Mac, and Microsoft also revealed a record TPC-H data warehousing benchmark conducted with SQL Server 2017 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and HPE ProLiant server hardware.

Supported Linux platforms for CTP 2.0 include RHEL 7.3, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server v12 SP2, and Ubuntu 16.04 and 16.10. As demoed, SQL Server 2017 is also available as a Docker image, which can run on Linux, Windows or Mac.

There's parity between the Windows and Linux products on most of the new features in the CTP. The new preview brings to Linux a few features that were previously only available on Windows, such as some SQL Server Agent capabilities and a listener for Always On availability groups.

New for both Windows and Linux in CTP 2.0 are support for storing and analyzing graph data relationships, resumable online index rebuilds and improvements to the automatic processes for keeping database queries running efficiently.

One major new feature available only for Windows is the ability to use the Python language in the database to run advanced analytics. The new capability is called Microsoft Machine Learning Services, and Microsoft positions it as enabling the database to scale and accelerate machine learning, predictive analytics and data science scripts. The in-database use of Python joins the existing capabilities around the R language as a Windows-only feature of SQL Server.

Microsoft's agenda for data covers much more than on-premises database servers, and the SQL Server 2017 updates at Data Amp were accompanied on Wednesday by several major announcements involving other servers, services and Azure:

  • Microsoft R Server 9.1, an incremental release of the Big Data analytics server that hit version 9.0 in early December, is now available. Enhancements to the 9.1 version include supporting the new Python capabilities in SQL Server 2017 CTP 2.0.

  • Several Microsoft Cognitive Services graduated from preview stage to general availability in the Azure Portal. They include the Face API for detecting, comparing and grouping faces; the Computer Vision API for automatically contextualizing the contents of images, tagging objects, landmarks, people and actions and providing a description of the contents in a coherent sentence, and the Content Moderator for text and images, which is a mix of algorithm-based and human-review tools.

  • Azure Analysis Services, a cloud tool based on the on-premises Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, reached general availability.

  • A GetToSQL Migration Service entered the preview stage on Azure. The tool automates the migration of on-premises SQL Server, Oracle and MySQL databases to the Azure SQL Database.

Posted by Scott Bekker on April 19, 2017


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