Database professionals from all over the world (myself included), were sitting on the edge of their seats as Microsoft officially announced SQL Server 2016 at their “Data Driven” event in New York City.

I watched online, eagerly anticipating how much detail they would share about the latest release…and apart from not revealing the exact release date (the only disappointment for me), there are a lot of great things to look forward to.

To be honest…we’ve all been critical in the past of Microsoft’s direction, vision and execution (or the lack thereof) with the SQL Server product suite. As of late though, I am really impressed with what I am seeing.

Microsoft is embracing open-source technologies
Yes, I can’t believe it just happened…the words “Microsoft” and “open-source” in the same sentence. With integration to Hadoop and the ability to run SQL Server on Linux, it will be very interesting to see how this will change Microsoft’s perceived “closed eco-system”.

Steady progress in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant
Gartner’s Magic Quadrant research has been the de facto standard as it relates to the position of technology companies within specific markets. Microsoft has made steady progress in the past few years, and is now the clear leader for both operational database management systems and business intelligence and analytics platforms.

The “cloud first” strategy is working
In my opinion, it seems like Microsoft’s strategy to develop and deploy everything in the cloud first is paying off. They seem a lot more agile in their approach, with the ability to release and test smaller sets of features in the cloud. In some of the related technologies like Power BI, we’re seeing monthly releases of new features…very impressive!!

Back to SQL Server 2016, it looks like the RTM version is imminent with the second release candidate (RC1) already available. Here are some of the features I am most excited about:

  • Stretch Database: “Stretch” your on premise database to store some of its data in the cloud with this new feature.
  • PolyBase: Query a Hadoop instance or Azure blob storage directly from SQL Server.
  • Reporting Services: SSRS has seen a major overhaul in this release…something we’ve been asking for a long time. And with the integration of Datazen we finally have a mobile option for reporting.

There is of course other interesting and noteworthy features coming our way, but we’ll leave that for future posts. What a great time to be a data professional!!