SQL Server has seen double-digit growth in recent years and according to CEO Satya Nadella 2014 saw that revenue stream reach the $5 billion mark. The newest version is on the way conforming to the new two-year cadence started with the SQL Server 2012 release and I can only expect that trend to continue, particularly with the strong offerings for both the box product and Azure integration/hybridization enhancements announced today at both Microsoft Ignite and through internal channels at Microsoft.
The announcement was made this morning at the Microsoft Ignite keynote that a public preview for SQL Server 2016 will be released this summer. "The next major release of Microsoft’s flagship database and analytics platform provides breakthrough performance for mission-critical applications and deeper insights on your data across on-premises and cloud,” Microsoft corporate vice president T.K. “Ranga” Rengarajan wrote in a blog post on the news of the release.
According to Ranga's post "Top capabilities for the release include: Always Encrypted - a new capability that protects data at rest and in motion, Stretch Database - new technology that lets you dynamically stretch your warm and cold transactional data to Microsoft Azure, enhancements to our industry-leading in-memory technologies for real-time analytics on top of breakthrough transactional performance and new in-database analytics with R integration." You may remember that Microsoft acquired R distribution provider Revolution Analytics late last year, cementing their move into the business analytics, statistics and Hadoop space.
SQL Server 2016 will also come with Stretch Database, a feature that allows companies to “stretch” certain data that isn’t frequently accessed into Microsoft’s growing Azure public cloud, Rengarajan wrote. And he said it will be possible to restore on-premises databases to Azure, as well. Microsoft has been focusing on its hybrid cloud strategy lately as a way to distinguish itself from other major cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform and Stretch continues upon that path. Speaking of adding value to Azure over the competition, faster hybrid backups, high availability and disaster recovery scenarios to backup and restore your on-premises databases to Azure and placement of your SQL Server AlwaysOn secondaries in Azure were announced.
Additionally, Microsoft SQL Server will improve upon Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) with Always Encrypted. Using Always Encrypted, SQL Server will be able to perform operations against encrypted data with the encryption key residing with the application in the customer's trusted environment. According to Ranga, encryption and decryption of data happens transparently inside the application which minimizes the changes that have to be made to existing applications.
Furthermore, SQL Server 2016 improves on In-Memory OLTP (aka Hekaton) and columnstore indexes with in-memory columnstore delivering, as Ranga states, "100X faster queries with in-memory OLTP for in-memory performance and real-time operational analytics." Ranga goes on to state improvements or new features covering advancements with mobile BI, row level security and masking of sensitive data dynamically as well as improvements to Always On Availability Groups and native JSON support.