SQL Server 2016: turn data into intelligent action

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 29 October 2015
SQL Server 2016: turn data into intelligent action

We live in the age of data, and the ability to extract actionable intelligence from data is driving a fundamental transformation in how we live, work and play.

With the upcoming release of SQL Server 2016, our best SQL Server release in history, and the recent availability of the Cortana Analytics Suite, Microsoft is offering unmatched innovation across on-premises and the cloud to help you turn data into intelligent action.

In the recent Gartner Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems Microsoft is positioned as a leader, highest in execution and furthest in vision. SQL Server 2016 builds on this leadership, and will come packed with powerful built-in features. As the least vulnerable database for six years in a row, SQL Server 2016 offers security that no other database can match. It also has the data warehouse with the highest price-performance, and offers end-to-end mobile BI solutions on any device at a fraction of the cost of other vendors. It provides tools to go beyond BI with in-database Advanced Analytics, integrating the R language and scalable analytics functions from our recent acquisition of Revolution Analytics.

Our cloud-first product development model means that new features get hardened at scale in the cloud, delivering proven on-premises experience. In addition, we offer a consistent experience across on-premises and cloud with common development and management tools and common T-SQL.

The Always Encrypted feature in SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.0, an industry-first, is based on technology from Microsoft Research and helps protects data at rest and in motion. Using Always Encrypted, SQL Server can perform operations on encrypted data and – best of all – the encryption key resides with the application in the customers’ trusted environment. It offers unparalleled security.

One example of a customer that’s already benefitting from this new feature is Financial Fabric, an ISV that offers a service called DataHub to hedge funds. The service enables a hedge fund to collect data ranging from transactions to accounting and portfolio positions from multiple parties such as prime brokers and fund administrators, store it all in one central location, and make it available via reports and dashboards.

“Data protection is fundamental to the financial services industry and our stakeholders, but it can cause challenges with data driven business models,” said Subhra Bose, CEO, Financial Fabric. “Always Encrypted enables the storage and processing of sensitive data within and outside of business boundaries, without compromising data privacy in both on-premises and cloud databases. At Financial Fabric we are providing DataHub services with “Privacy by Design” for our client’s data, thanks to Always Encrypted in SQL Server 2016. We see this as a huge competitive advantage because this technology enables data science in Financial Services and gives us the tools to ensure we are compliant with jurisdictional regulations.”

With an expanded surface area, you can use the high performance In-Memory OLTP technology in SQL Server with a significantly greater number of applications. We are excited to introduce the unique capabilities of combine in-memory analytics (columnstore) with in-memory OLTP and traditional relational store in the same database to achieve real-time operational analytics. We have also made significant performance and scale improvements across all components in the SQL Server core engine.

You’ll find significant improvements in both SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) that help deliver business insights faster and improve productivity for BI developers and analysts. The enhanced DirectQuery enables high-performing access to external data sources like SQL Server Columnstore. This capability enhances the use of SSAS as a semantic model over your data for consistency across reporting and analysis without storing the data in Analysis Services.

SQL Server Reporting Services 2016 offers a modernized experience for paginated reports and updated tools as well as new capabilities to more easily design stunning documents. To get more from your investments in SSRS and to provide easy access to on-premises reports to everyone in your organization, you can now pin paginated reports items to the Power BI dashboard. In coming months, we will add new Mobile BI capabilities to Reporting Services, allowing you to create responsive, interactive BI reports optimized for mobile devices.

PolyBase, available today with the Analytic Platform System, is now built into SQL Server, expanding the power to extract value from unstructured and structured data using your existing T-SQL skills. PolyBase CTP 3.0 improvements including better performance and scale out PolyBase nodes to use other SQL Server instances.

Joseph Sirosh is corporate vice president of the Data Group at Microsoft

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