SQL Server 2016: Everything built-in

This post was authored by Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President of the Data Group at Microsoft.

Announcing SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.0, Azure Data Lake preview and much more.

We live in the age of data, and the ability to extract actionable intelligence from data is driving a fundamental transformation in how we live, work and play. This year, at the PASS Summit, we have several exciting announcements about new products and capabilities that will drive this transformation even further:

  • We are announcing the Community Technology Preview (CTP) 3.0 of SQL Server 2016. To experience the new, exciting features in SQL Server 2016 and the new rapid release model, download the preview. CTP 3.0 includes new innovations for mission-critical performance with In-Memory OLTP and real-time Operational Analytics, first in-market Always Encrypted, built-in SQL Server R Services, JSON support, and federated query from relational to Hadoop with PolyBase, and active archive of cold data to Azure with Stretch Database. 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.
  • Azure Data Lake. Previously disclosed at the Strata conference, Azure Data Lake offers unbelievable analytic processing power and an exabyte-scale big data store as a fully managed service. 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. Part of the Cortana Analytics Suite, Azure Data Lake includes new previews available today for the Store and the Analytics service and also includes Azure HDInsight, which is already generally available.
  • We are also pleased to announce the public preview of In-Memory OLTP and general availability of Operational Analytics in Azure SQL Database. In-Memory OLTP dramatically improves transaction processing performance, 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.

With the upcoming release of SQL Server 2016, our best SQL Server release in history, and the recent availability of the Cortana Analytics Suite, Microsoft is offering unmatched innovation across on-premises and the cloud to help you turn data into intelligent action.

SQL Server, an industry leader, now packs an even bigger punch

SQL Server 2016 builds on this leadership, and will come packed with powerful built-in features. As the least vulnerable database for six years in a row, SQL Server 2016 offers security that no other database can match. It also has the data warehouse with the highest price-performance, and offers end-to-end mobile BI solutions on any device at a fraction of the cost of other vendors. It provides tools to go beyond BI with in-database Advanced Analytics, integrating the R language and scalable analytics functions from our recent acquisition of Revolution Analytics.

Our cloud-first product development model means that new features get hardened at scale in the cloud, delivering proven 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.

Security with Always Encrypted

The Always Encrypted feature in SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.0, an industry-first, is based on technology from Microsoft Research and helps protects data at rest and in motion. Using Always Encrypted, SQL Server can perform operations on encrypted data and – best of all – the encryption key resides with the application in the customers’ trusted environment. It offers unparalleled security.

One example of a customer that’s already benefitting from this new feature is Financial Fabric, an ISV that offers a service called DataHub to hedge funds. The service enables a hedge fund to collect data ranging from transactions to accounting and portfolio positions from multiple parties such as prime brokers and fund administrators, store it all in one central location, and make it available via reports and dashboards.

“Data protection is fundamental to the financial services industry and our stakeholders, but it can cause challenges with data driven business models,” said Subhra Bose, CEO, Financial Fabric. “Always Encrypted enables the storage and processing of sensitive data within and outside of business boundaries, without compromising data privacy in both on-premises and cloud databases. At Financial Fabric we are providing DataHub services with “Privacy by Design” for our client’s data, thanks to Always Encrypted in SQL Server 2016. We see this as a huge competitive advantage because this technology enables data science in Financial Services and gives us the tools to ensure we are compliant with jurisdictional regulations.”

Mission Critical Performance

With an expanded surface area, you can use the high performance In-Memory OLTP technology in SQL Server with a significantly greater number of applications. We are excited to introduce the unique capabilities of combine in-memory analytics (columnstore) with in-memory OLTP and traditional relational store in the same database to achieve real-time operational analytics. We have also made significant performance and scale improvements across all components in the SQL Server core engine.

Insights on All Your Data

You’ll find significant improvements in both SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) that help deliver business insights faster and improve productivity for BI developers and analysts. The enhanced DirectQuery enables high-performing access to external data sources like SQL Server Columnstore. This capability enhances the use of SSAS as a semantic model over your data for consistency across reporting and analysis without storing the data in Analysis Services.

SQL Server Reporting Services 2016 offers a modernized experience for paginated reports and updated tools as well as new capabilities to more easily design stunning documents. To get more from your investments in SSRS and to provide easy access to on-premises reports to everyone in your organization, you can now pin paginated reports items to the Power BI dashboard. In coming months, we will add new Mobile BI capabilities to Reporting Services, allowing you to create responsive, interactive BI reports optimized for mobile devices.

PolyBase, available today with the Analytic Platform System, is now built into SQL Server, expanding the power to extract value from unstructured and structured data using your existing T-SQL skills. PolyBase CTP 3.0 improvements including better performance and scale out PolyBase nodes to use other SQL Server instances.

Advanced Analytics

CTP 3.0 introduces a new workload for Advanced Analytics with built-in SQL Server R Services. SQL Server R Services bridges the gap between data scientists and DBAs by enabling you to embrace the highly popular open source R language in SQL Server to build intelligent applications and discover new insights about your business. The SQL Server database is the best place to run Advanced Analytics because you can leverage industry leading technologies such as the In-Memory Columnstore and Parallelized R Services for fast predictive in-database analytics.

SQL Developers can learn R skills and build intelligent applications, while Data Scientists can leverage powerful SQL Database tools to create value through predictive and prescriptive enhancements to their applications. SQL Server 2016 enables intelligent applications to be built by hosting analytical models in the database, while reducing complexity and overall costs by moving expensive analytic computations close to the data.

New Hybrid Scenario using Stretch Database

Stretch Database enables stretching a single database between on-premises and Azure. This will enable our customers to take advantage of the cloud economics of lower cost compute and storage without being forced into an all-or-nothing database move. Stretch Database is transparent to your application, and the trickle of data to Azure can be paused and restarted without downtime. You can use Always Encrypted with Stretch Database to extend data in a more secure manner for greater peace of mind.

Azure Data Lake Store and Analytics Service available in preview today

Last month we announced a new and expanded Azure Data Lake that makes big data processing and analytics simpler and more accessible. Azure Data Lake includes the Azure Data Lake Store, a single repository where you can easily capture data of any size, type and speed, Azure Data Lake Analytics, a new service built on Apache YARN that dynamically scales so you can focus on your business goals, not on distributed infrastructure, and Azure HDInsight, our fully managed Apache Hadoop cluster service. Azure Data Lake is an important part of the Cortana Analytics Suite and a key component of Microsoft’s big data and advanced analytics portfolio.

The Azure Data Lake service includes U-SQL, a language that unifies the benefits of SQL with the expressive power of user code. U-SQL’s scalable distributed query capability enables you to efficiently analyze data in the store and across SQL Servers in Azure, Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Customers can use Azure Data Lake tools for Visual Studio, which simplifies authoring, debugging and optimization and provides an integrated development environment for analytics.

ASOS.com, the UK’s largest independent online fashion and beauty retailer, has been using Azure Data Lake to improve customer experience on their website. “At ASOS we are committed to putting the customer first. As a global fashion destination for 20-somethings we need to stay abreast of customer behaviour on our site, enabling us to optimize their shopping experience across all platforms of ASOS.com and wherever they are in the world. Microsoft Azure Data Lake Analytics assists in processing large amounts of unstructured clickstream data to track and optimize their experience. We have been able to get productive immediately using U-SQL because it was easy to use, extend and view and monitor the jobs all within Visual Studio” said Rob Henwood, Enterprise Architect at ASOS.com.

Azure SQL Database In-Memory OLTP and Operational Analytics

Today, we are releasing our next generation in-memory technologies to Azure with the public preview of In-Memory OLTP and real-time Operational Analytics in Azure SQL Database. In-Memory OLTP in the Azure SQL Database preview includes the expanded surface area available in SQL Server 2016, enabling more applications to benefit from higher performance. By bringing this technology to the cloud, customers will be able to take advantage of in-memory OLTP and Operational Analytics in a fully managed database-as-a-service with 99.99% SLA.

Combined with the releases earlier this month of Always Encrypted, Transparent Data Encryption, support for Azure Active Directory, Row-Level security, Dynamic Data Masking and Threat Detection, Azure SQL Database provides unparalleled data security in the cloud with fast performance. As part of our intelligent capabilities, SQL Database also has built-in advisors to help customers get started quickly with in-memory OLTP to optimize performance.

It’s never been easier to capture, transform, mash-up, analyze and visualize any data, of any size, at any scale, in its native format using familiar tools, languages and frameworks in a trusted environment, both on-premises and in the cloud. Share your feedback on the new SQL Server 2016 capabilities using Microsoft’s Connect tool. If you have questions, join discussion forums on SQL Server 2016 at MSDN and Stack Overflow.

Learn more about the Azure Data Lake Store and Analytics service today and try the new In-Memory and security previews of Azure SQL Database now.

Finally, don’t forget to join us, either live or via the livestream feed, at the PASS Summit 2015 keynote and foundational sessions. And be sure to take advantage all the great sessions at the PASS Summit this week.

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