One of the biggest changes in SQL Server 2016 on the analytics front is the inclusion of R into the database engine.
SQL Server R Services is the result of Microsoft’s acquisition of Revolution Analytics. R is a popular open-source data analysis language that’s used by data scientists, statisticians and data analysts for data analysis, data exploration and predictive modeling. R can produce both data analytic results and data visualizations. However, in the past, the use of R in an enterprise environment involved several challenges. For example, many tools for R were run from client systems and were memory-bound.
SQL Server R Services resolves these challenges by integrating R processing directly into the SQL Server platform, shifting the workload from the desktop to the server. You can execute R code directly from T-SQL. The inclusion of SQL Server R Services with SQL Server enables you keep analytics processing close to the data, increasing performance and reducing the need for data transportation along with any associated security risks.
In SQL Server 2016, SQL Server R Services provides both server and client components. You can see an overview of the SQL Server 2016 R components in the figure below.
Figure 1 – An overview of SQL Server 2016 R Integration
SQL Server 2016’s R integration includes a server component and a client component:
- R Services (In-Database) - R Services (In-Database) is a server component that’s presented as an option during the SQL Server 2016 installation process. Selecting this options installs R extensions in the database engine to support execution of R scripts from the SQL Server instance.
- Microsoft R Client – The Microsoft R Client is a free tool that lets data analysts develop R solutions from their workstations. These solutions can download data from SQL Server to the desktop client, or they can use the new ScaleR functions that enable the R processes to run on the SQL Server instance. ScaleR provides great scalability. You can download the Microsoft R Client from http://aka.ms/rclient/download.
When you install either the R Services (In-Database) or the Microsoft R Client, you get the R libraries and the ScaleR performance libraries. This enables developers to use the same code on their developments systems, as well as on the SQL Server instance.
HPE and Microsoft are the underwriters of this article.