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SQL Server 2016 Brings New Features, Enhanced Analytics

Author: Eric Russo | | September 15, 2015

Microsoft is on the brink of releasing SQL Server 2016. There are many reasons to upgrade to SQL Server 2016, not the least of which are several new features, but there are also numerous enhanced features we are looking forward to working with.

Microsoft is touting SQL Server 2016 for its ability to deliver mission-critical performance and help users obtain deeper insights across data, as well as for its hyperscale cloud capabilities. It also has in-memory enhancements and advanced analytics capabilities.

New & Enhanced Features in SQL Server 2016

Let’s take a quick look at some of these features and enhancements.

The named features include Stretch Databases, Always Encrypted, PolyBase, Row Level Security, Dynamic Data Masking, Native JSON support, and Query Data Store.

Perhaps the most exciting is Stretch Databases. Stretch Databases offer enhanced backups and migration to the cloud, enhanced availability with cloud replicas, and enhanced consistency in working with SQL Server on premises, SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines, and Azure SQL Database. We will cover this feature in depth in a future post.

Enhancements include: the ability to extract real-time insights on operational data; various data security upgrades, including encryption and greater compliance with row-level security; and the ability to work with data on-premise as well as in the cloud. SQL Server 2016 also offers greater availability through Always On, which offers more replicas, load balancing, and greater automation.

SQL Server 2016 also has enhanced database caching and enhanced Windows Server support. Several existing features—including AlwaysOn Availability Groups and In-Memory OLTP—have been enhanced to boost performance.

It’s quite a list, but the breadth of additions and enhancements also demonstrates how serious Microsoft is about improving SQL Server by bringing its functionality in line with business needs. These features and added functions are all about improving users’ ability to work with mission-critical data.

SQL Server 2016 Integrated with Revolution R

Another advantage for those interested in using SQL Server 2016 for data analysis is the incorporation of the R language in SQL Server 2016.

In January 2015, Microsoft purchased the statistical open source company Revolution Analytics, which developed the R language. Users of SQL Server 2016 will no longer need to export data to run an analysis in R.

Sharon Machlis, Online & Data Analytics Editor at Computerworld, says that R will be integrated across the Microsoft ecosystem, within Visual Studio, Power BI, and SharePoint.

Support Ending for SQL Server 2005

It’s also worth noting this may be a great time to install the newest version, as SQL Server 2005 support is ending. If your organization has not yet completed a migration to a new server platform, you need to do so before April 12, 2016. As Microsoft reminds users:

While SQL Server 2005 instances will continue to run, after the end of support date Microsoft will no longer provide hotfixes or security updates. Additionally, the benefits of upgrading to a modern data platform far outweigh the costs of maintaining security, support and compliance for an unsupported database. Upgrading is not just a maintenance task, but an opportunity to provide new value to your business.

And, in case you missed it, Windows Server 2003 support ended July 14, 2015.

There are many different issues to consider when planning and performing an upgrade to SQL Server 2016. If you are planning a migration project or your organization wants to install SQL Server for the first time, Datavail can help. Please feel free to contact us to discuss a custom solution designed for your enterprise.

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