Microsoft Ignite: Data is Sexy

Microsoft Ignite: Data is Sexy

Is data sexy? Not really. But, that’s the message that Microsoft wants to get across to business leaders and IT pros alike. I had a wonderful one-on-one conversation with Ranga Rengarajan, Corporate Vice President for Data Platform, Cloud & Enterprise at Microsoft yesterday afternoon at Ignite. We discussed the important data announcements made at BUILD 2015 and Ignite, and had a great conversation about Microsoft’s belief in the concept of data as a service.

We’ve been collecting data for decades, but only now capable of acting on that data to improve humanity’s understanding of our environment and how we can improve our health, society, and thousands of things we’ve not even realized yet. Sensors are everywhere and every device we own is connected, constantly collecting and storing massive amounts of data. Ranga believes that Microsoft is uniquely positioned to be the leader in data services, employing the right vision that properly mixes security, privacy, and intelligence.

Azure, of course, provides the backend. Microsoft’s investments in Azure has shown constant improvements in its services. But, it is also investing significantly in products and services that deliver secure communications to ensure that data is protected.

SQL Server 2016 will release this year and provide data that is always encrypted. While users are creating and storing data, it will be constantly protected against prying eyes – even the SQL dbas tasked with managing the servers. The content will be stored as encrypted data so even personal communications cannot be read without proper tools. Other enhancements to SQL Server 2016 will include integrations for Revolution R, Datazen, and Hadoop, but also a new Stretch Database component that provides SQL Server 2016 the ability to host data locally and in the Cloud at the same time. Ranga used the iceberg example to explain how Stretch Database works, where you only see a small portion of the entire bulk of the iceberg (or data) above the ocean’s surface, while a massive mountain of ice supports it underneath the water. With Stretch Database businesses can store regularly accessed data locally while maintaining massive amounts of old data in Azure. The conduit provides quick access and hosted analytics services as well as seamless Business Intelligence.

Other features highlighted for SQL Server 2016 include:

  • Improvements to AlwaysOn for more robust availability and disaster recovery with multiple synchronous replicas and secondary load balancing.

  • Native JSON support to offer better performance and support for many types of your data.

  • SQL Server Enterprise Information Management (EIM) tools and Analysis Services get an upgrade in performance, usability and scalability.

  • Faster hybrid backups, high availability and disaster recovery scenarios to backup and restore your on-premises databases to Azure and place your SQL Server AlwaysOn secondaries in Azure

Last week at BUILD, we heard about new concepts for data management and consumption like Data Lake. Data Lake is built on top of Azure’s hyperscale network. It supports multiple petabytes of single files and also high volumes of data. Utilizing Microsoft’s Big Data analytics workloads, customers can use as little or as much of the service as needed, at different costs, of course. For example, if analyzed data output isn’t critical, queries can be run over days, saving money. But if that data is required right away, customers can rev up massively parallel queries that can produce output in minutes.

Also announced at BUILD 2015, Microsoft is delivering…

  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Supports petabytes of data storage which can scale as necessary to save money on storage costs and produce valuable data analytics for insight towards business decisions.

  • Azure SQL Data elastic database pools. Allows developers and ISVs to manage the performance, scale and cost across a larger number of databases as a single pool of capacity.

Data is the hidden component of everything we use today. Without data, apps are useless and business can’t function. And, while data is not the clearly evident component, it’s critical for operations. Apps are the pretty face for the ugly innards, but Ranga still suggests that data truly is sexy and is one of the key areas IT Pros should invest in learning to retain a continuing career in the IT profession.

Ranga suggests that IT Pros start now by evaluating the services already available in Azure, and grab the SQL Server 2016 technical preview when it becomes available in the coming months. You can sign-up to be notified when the technical preview is ready here: C:\Users\rodtrent\Documents\Custom Office Templates

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