Recently Microsoft announced its latest version of SQL Server – SQL Server 2016, last one being in 2014. This new version boasts of taking the SQL experience to an altogether new level on account of the features introduced in it. As per Microsoft – SQL Server 2016 is the biggest leap forward in Microsoft data platform history with features that increase performance, simplify management, and transform your data into actionable insights.
What is SQL Server?
For beginners who are new to the analytics space, let’s first understand what a SQL server is and look back at its history. Microsoft SQL Server, can be explained as a relational database management system (RDBMS). Its one of the flagship products by Microsoft for enterprises, and a frontrunner in the once heated up RDBMS market. The first version of SQL server dates back to the year 1989 and from then on 18 versions including the recent one have been launched.
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It is highly likely that a Data Scientist would come across the data being stored at a SQL server and thus a need to retreive and process data out of it.
SQL Server 2016
In its latest release, Microsoft has given importance to performance, security and cloud integration and accordingly added features to SQL Server 2016. The new server has lot of built-in features from advanced analytics to unparalleled in-memory performance. These features allow you to get real-time insights from your transactional and analytical database.
Features of SQL Server 2016
Microsoft has introduced quite some new features in its latest SQL Server 2016 version. Let’s have a closer look at each of these.
- Always Encrypted
The Feature ‘Always Encrypted’ has been designed to guard the data at rest or in motion without impacting database performance. This feature enables SQL Server to execute operations on encrypted data. Hence data which is stored in the SQL Server will be encrypted, thereby securing it from DBA and administrators, making SQL one of the least vulnerable database.
- Real-time Operational Analytics
This feature allows you to perform real-time operational analytics by combining SQL server’s two in-memory technologies i.e. In-Memory OLTP and the in-memory columnstore. This feature aims to tune your system for the ideal transactional performance, along with increasing your workload concurrency. It allows up to 30x faster transactions with in-memory OLTP (Online Transaction Processing).
With the growing importance of Big Data, this feature- PolyBase addresses the technology gap between SQL server and Hadoop. PolyBase is a technology which has connected SQL server and Hadoop. Basically you can construct and run SQL queries over Hadoop data stores, hence not needing HDFS or MapReduce.
- Stretch Database
Stretch Database allows you to stretch your on-premise database to Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. In simple terms, stretch database keeps your data which is frequently accessed on-premise and moves your cold or occasionally accessed data to cloud. This reduces the cost for the organization as well allows it to have high performance applications. However. It is important on part of Microsoft to bifurcate the data correctly so that performance does get affected.
- End to end mobile BI (Business Intelligence) on any device
This is a built-in feature in SQL server 2016. It allows you to transform your data into actionable insights and these comprehensions can be delivered on any device whether online or offline. There are 250+ built in analytical functions with modern data visualization techniques.
- In-Database Analytics
SQL Server 2016 has R built-in to it, hence allowing the user to conduct analytics on operational data using R. This feature enables real-time operational analytics using R without moving the data for analysis.
- Enhanced In-Memory OLTP
In Memory OLTP (Online Transaction Processing ) was first introduced with SQL Server 2014. With the latest version, SQL Server 2016, Microsoft aims at extending the functionality to more applications. This will also increase the concurrency.
With all these built-in features, Microsoft’s SQL Server 2016 definitely has lots to offer to its customers. Also Microsoft’s offer of providing free database licenses to users of Oracle Database is a move to get Oracle customers, enhancing SQL Server customer base. But will all this do the magic and make SQL Server 2016 a success is altogether a new topic for discussion.