Friday, 30 December 2016

Thoughts on 2016 - 2017

2016 has been, as far as SQL Server is concerned, one of the best years that I can remember. The biggest point for sure is the release of the 2016 version which many people have classed as the biggest release since 2005, a view I wholeheartedly share.
Microsoft have added lots of new functionality, released some existing limitations and rather surprisingly made several features available to editions that don’t come with the hefty enterprise fee, In-Memory OLTP on Express Edition anyone?! I won’t dwell too much on the new functions; you can read about them here.
Then came the announcement that SQL Server will be available on Linux, a move heavily broadcast by Microsoft and bloggers alike. Personally, I haven’t tried it yet. I will get round to it and I am wondering if and when we’ll hear about Linux estates that are taking SQL Server on board because above all else, this is all about increasing SQL Servers user base.
One of the new features in 2016 that really interests me is the introduction of R Services for SQL Server. R is a rich and powerful analytical language used for data science activities such as data exploration and predictive modelling. The integration with SQL Server means that we can develop analytical solutions using very familiar tools but we can also scale our analysis to huge sets of data without performing any of the costly traditional movement of data - this is a very important factor on how we will approach data analytics.
On that note, it’s worth reading Microsoft’s vision for the data platform as this really is the way they’re heading. Traditional Business Intelligence platforms just don’t cut it anymore and must make way for technologies that can accommodate larger, broader sets of data as well as present much more immersive and interactive user experiences. The world of Business Intelligence (as an umbrella term), is going to have huge focus in 2017 with the likes of predictive analysis, AI and Machine Learning!
It goes without saying, but the cloud is a fundamental part in all of this. Whether you're thinking of using hosted SQL instances in Azure/AWS or utilising Power BI with Office 365 there are a wealth of options and features to look into. Cloud based solutions get an awful lot of publicity and whilst there are some clear advantages there is still very much a case for on-premise regardless of what anyone tries to tell you. For me, the new features coming into vNext demonstrate Microsoft's commitment to the on-premise versions.
So for administrators and developers alike it really is an exciting time to be working with SQL Server, I certainly can't recall a time where there has been so many different things happening at the same time and so many new learning opportunities (I haven't even mentioned PowerShell!), all in all 2017 promises to be a really interesting year.

I’ll definitely cover what my plans are for DTA (not to be confused with "the DTA") in another post but for now I would like to wish everyone a very happy new year and I hope you all have a hugely successful 2017 - whichever roads you are taking!

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