Microsoft for the Modern Data Estate

This post was authored by Rohan Kumar, General Manager, Data Systems Group.

Welcome to Microsoft Ignite 2017! I hope you are able to join us in person, or virtually through the Ignite Live Stream, to hear our exciting product announcements for your Data Estate.

  • As Scott Guthrie wrote, today we announced general availability of SQL Server 2017, coming October 2! This is an incredible milestone representing the first version of SQL Server to run on Windows Server, Linux and Docker—and it already has been pulled on Docker X 2 million times since November.
  • We also announced the upcoming public preview of SQL Database Managed Instance and Azure Database Migration Service previews, along with the addition of SQL Server to Azure Hybrid Benefit. The new Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server enables customers to use on-premises SQL Server licenses for the easiest lift and shift of SQL Server workloads to fully-managed cloud.
  • For developers looking to drive highly customized experiences based on events in a serverless architecture, we also announced support for Azure Functions with Azure Cosmos DB.
  • To simplify analytics in the cloud, we’re releasing a public preview of new hybrid data integration capabilities in Azure Data Factory including the ability to run SSIS packages within the service.
  • Finally, dramatic scale investments are coming to Azure SQL Data Warehouse for double the performance and 5x the scale.

This afternoon, I’ll be speaking in the Data General Session about the investments Microsoft has made across our Data and Analytics portfolio. From key announcements about the availability of SQL Server 2017 on Linux and Docker, to innovative programs that let you use on-premises SQL Server licenses to easily lift and shift to the cloud, to great price and performance for analytics workloads in Azure, we have lots of ways to help you unleash the power of your data, across the entire Data Estate. You’ll also get to hear from customers who have come with us on this journey, and whose investments in data and analytics have led to out-innovating and out-performing their competition.

Let’s take a look at some of the products and features you’ll hear more about.

SQL Server 2017 on Linux and Docker

With SQL Server 2017, we’ve made huge strides of choice for the data platform, and one of the heroes of our new choice paradigm is SQL Server 2017. Starting next Monday, October 2, customers will be able to bring the industry-leading performance and security of SQL Server to Linux and Docker Enterprise Edition containers for production workloads. SQL Server 2017 delivers a mission-critical database with everything built-in, on the platform of your choice. And, it can unlock seamless DevOps with Docker Enterprise Edition containers, bringing efficiency and simplicity to your innovation. As one customer reported:

“The Linux switchover was very easy. We didn’t have to do anything custom for Azure. It was literally plug and play,” said Dean Chen, VP of Engineering for dv01.

Today we are also announcing a SQL Server on Red Hat Enterprise Linux offer to help with upgrades and migrations. This offer provides up to 30% off SQL Server 2017 through an annual subscription. When customers purchase new Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) to support their SQL Server, they will be eligible for another 30% off their operating system. In addition to discounts on SQL Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, all of this is backed by integrated support from Microsoft and Red Hat.

Upgrading now to SQL Server 2017 will get you access to these cool features:

  • AI built-in, with R and Python analytics plus native scoring in T-SQL – SQL Server was the first commercial database to have AI built-in. SQL Server 2017 enables you to build intelligent apps using scalable, parallelized and highly performant analytics using both R and now Python. New native scoring in T-SQL lets you score in near real-time.
  • SQL Server 2017 will enable customers to use graph data management and analysis in order to discover new kinds of relationships. You can track and analyze highly interconnected data, for uses like detecting financial fraud or understanding pharmaceutical drug interactions.
  • Adaptive Query Processing is a new family of features in SQL Server that bring intelligence to database performance. Adaptive Memory Grants in SQL Server track and learn from how much memory is used by a given query over time to avoid over- or under-provisioning memory and spilling to disk, a situation that can negatively affect performance. The more you run your application, the smarter this feature gets. Automatic Plan Correction ensures continuous performance by finding and fixing performance regressions.
  • The newly renamed Machine Learning Server for Hadoop, formerly R Server, brings R and Python based scalable analytics to Hadoop and Spark environments, and it is now available to all SQL Server Enterprise Edition customers as a Software Assurance benefit.
  • SQL Server Enterprise edition software assurance benefits also enable you to run Power BI Report Server. Power BI Report Server enables a truly hybrid reporting and dashboard experience by allowing you to manage your SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reports alongside your Power BI reports

Easy lift and shift to the cloud with Azure SQL Database Managed Instance and Azure Hybrid Benefit

With Microsoft’s cloud-first development principle, you’ll find many of these same advances in our database-as-a-service: Azure SQL Database brings your workloads industry-leading performance and security, all on the same core engine as SQL Server.

With intelligent features like Threat Detection and auto-tuning built-in, Azure SQL Database offers the most productive database service, ideal for managing and modernizing data estate with thousands of databases — delivering a 406% ROI¹ to organizations. Today, we are announcing the upcoming public preview for SQL Database Managed Instance, an expansion to the service which offers close to full compatibility with SQL Server — ideal for migrating database estate to Azure for hassle-free operations. We are also announcing an upcoming public preview for Azure Database Migration Service which will streamline the movement of databases to Azure including SQL Server to Azure SQL Database. But we aren’t stopping there. We will make Azure the most economical and logical choice for existing SQL Server customers with the addition of Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server, a way to re-use on-premises SQL Server licenses to run database-as-a-service in Azure. Azure Hybrid Benefit offers customers big savings compared to moving to other public clouds.

“We wanted the best of what we do in our data center, which is reliable SQL Servers on flash storage. With the best of what Azure could bring to it…For us we found Azure SQL Database was the best way to do it. We deploy our SQL Server’s schema element into a Managed Instance and we point the application via connection string change directly over the managed instance. We basically picked up our existing infrastructure and were able to deploy to Azure within a few seconds. It allows us to scale the business very quickly, with very minimal effort. The holy grail in a move like this is being able to lift your existing platform, move it into Azure without significant amounts of work, without having to re-engineer things,” said Eric Fleischman, Vice President & Chief Architect of DocuSign.

In addition to making it easier than ever to move to Azure SQL Database, we’re building in new capabilities that make it more compelling than ever to move. SQL Database has new Machine Learning Services for R language advanced analytics, a service that provides a platform for building and deploying intelligent applications in the cloud. And we’re adding other capabilities that leverage SQL Database’s cloud architecture: Intelligent Insights provide automated monitoring at scale and detection of any database performance degradations, faster than possible with traditional means. Not only that the issue is detected, but a root cause analysis is provided to the user, to easily decide on the best way to mitigate problems. With the new Vulnerability Assessment, customers can proactively improve the security state of their database. They get visibility into their security settings and vulnerabilities, and concrete steps to resolve issues and lock down security settings – an important issue if you’re subject to EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations.

Data Analytics at scale in the cloud with Azure Data Factory and Azure SQL Data Warehouse

We are helping customers transform with analytics and AI through faster performance, reduced time to value, and intelligence that can redefine customer interactions. With cloud-first innovation, you get a superset of business intelligence and analytics features that work across your entire Data Estate – on-premises and in the cloud.

Azure Data Factory is a data integration service that now lets you create, schedule, and orchestrate data integration pipelines at scale wherever your data lives, in the cloud or on premises. You can meet security and compliance needs for your data while taking advantage of Azure Data Factory’s extensive orchestration and data movement capabilities while paying only for what you use.

Now in public preview, SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) customers can easily lift SSIS packages into the cloud using new managed SSIS hosting capabilities in Data Factory. Coming soon, customers who have active SQL Server license on SQL Server will be able to take advantage of the Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server to receive discounted rates on SSIS execution in Data Factory.

Customers are already using these new features to speed data integration. Said David B. McAuley, CTO for Lumedx, “Azure Data Factory has simplified the integration of data from multiple hybrid sources at scale and enabled us to leverage big data and analytics offerings in Azure to drive better health outcomes for our customers.”

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a fully-managed, petabyte-scale cloud data warehouse based on SQL Server. Soon we’ll preview a new performance tier that offers 2x the performance and 5x the scale of the current performance tier. This new compute-optimized performance tier leverages the latest Azure hardware with data caching through low-latency Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe)-based solid-state disks for the most demanding data warehouse workloads. You are also able to store an unlimited amount of columnar data with each data warehouse. These benefits of increased performance and scale are offered while retaining the ability to pause, resume and dynamically scale your data warehouse to achieve the lowest possible cost.

Finally, you’re probably familiar with how Power BI has been revolutionizing self-service business intelligence, revealing the information stored within your analytics using powerful visualizations. Power BI works across locations and devices to put BI in the hands of all your users. With Power BI Report Server, announced this past May, you can now run Power BI reports on-premises! This unlocks the deployment and distribution of interactive Power BI reports – and traditional paginated reports – completely within the boundaries of the organization’s firewall. Power BI Report Server extends the hybrid BI experience by allowing you to build on your on-premises reporting infrastructure while maintaining compatibility with Power BI to ensure a natural transition when you are ready to move to the cloud. And because Power BI Report Server is built on the proven SQL Server Reporting Services technology, it is fully compatible with SSRS. So, you can take advantage of SSRS capabilities when you deploy Power BI Report Server. Power BI Report Server is included with the purchase of Power BI Premium and available as a Software Assurance benefit for SQL Server Enterprise customers.

Build serverless apps with near infinite global-scale with new support for Azure Functions in Azure Cosmos DB

Finally, only Microsoft offers a complete development, application, and data platform that enables developers to build the next-generation of applications that will enrich the world around us. At Ignite, we continue this journey with new support for Azure Functions in Azure Cosmos DB which will dramatically streamline a developer’s ability to build globally distributed apps in a serverless architecture. These capabilities enable developers to build rich, real-time customer experiences based on data and events, with minimal infrastructure overhead. Azure Cosmos DB offers turnkey global distribution across Azure regions and guarantees performance, with single-digit-millisecond latencies at the 99th percentile anywhere in the world. Its multiple consistency models help fine-tune performance for your application, and guaranteed high availability is backed by industry-leading, comprehensive service level agreements (SLAs). And now, you can try it for free!

Join us

Ready to hear more? Please join me at this afternoon’s Data General Session and for the other exciting sessions in the Ignite Data track. We’ll have lots of advice and ideas help you unleash the power of your data.

¹ “The Business Value of Microsoft Azure SQL Database Services” IDC, March 2015.