Microsoft Releases Preview of SQL Server 2016

sql2016HostingReviewASP.NET|Best, reliable and recommended SQL server 2016 hosting. The first public preview of SQL Server 2016 is now available for download. It is the biggest leap forward in Microsoft’s data platform history with real-time operational analytics, rich visualizations on mobile devices, built-in advanced analytics, new advanced security technology, and new hybrid cloud scenarios.

While it’s described as the “first public preview,” Microsoft also labels it “Community Technology Preview 2.” CTP is a term that the company has typically used for its software releases preceding the first public beta. Using a CTP had meant signing up to test it, but anyone can just download this SQL Server 2016 CTP2 public preview from this Microsoft Evaluation Center page. The change in nomenclature perhaps reflects Microsoft’s faster software production approach. 

In what spare time I’ve had this week, I’ve been watching the news coming out of Microsoft Ignite.  SQL Server 2016 was announced during Monday’s keynote.  And it sounds like it will be awesome.

Just a few of the highlights I am interested in:

  • Always Encrypted
    SQL Server has had encryption capabilities for quite some time – except in memory. Always Encrypted is a new feature which promises to allow us to perform operations on data without decrypting it and without storing the key in the database. SQL Server never sees the unencrypted data. For those of us concerned about security, this is a major win.
  • Row-level security
    Other database platforms have the native ability to allow a user to see some rows in a table but not others through permissions. Azure SQL Database finally gained this capability last year, and now it’s making its way into the on-premises product.
  • Dynamic data masking
    Data masking is the ability to mask all or part of the data in a field using Xs (i.e., XXX-XX-XX12 for a Social Security number). This is increasingly important, both from a security perspective as well as a compliance perspective.
  • Improvements to AlwaysOn
    AlwaysOn was a fantastic addition to SQL Server’s HA/DR features when it was introduced in SQL Server 2012, and SQL Server 2014 improved it. SQL Server 2016 will apparently improve this yet again, adding multiple synchronous replicas and secondary load balancing.
  • Native JSON support
    JSON is one of the latest data interchange formats, replacing XML in some circles. I was first asked about SQL’s support for it a couple of years ago – the lack of JSON support was the one thing stopping this person from adopting SQL Server over a competing NoSQL platform. I’m glad that Microsoft is catching up.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Microsoft’s posts have mentioned a number of other features, and they said that more will be announced as the release date gets closer.

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SQL Server 2016 delivers breakthrough mission-critical capabilities with in-memory performance and operational analytics built-in. Comprehensive security features like new Always Encrypted technology help protect your data at rest and in motion, and a world-class high availability and disaster recovery solution adds new enhancements to AlwaysOn technology.

Organizations will gain deeper insights into all of their data with new capabilities that go beyond business intelligence to perform advanced analytics directly within their database and present rich visualizations for business insights on any device.

You can also gain the benefits of hyper-scale cloud with new hybrid scenarios enabled by new Stretch Database technology that lets you dynamically stretch your warm and cold transactional data to Microsoft Azure in a secured way so your data is always at hand for queries, no matter the size. In addition, SQL Server 2016 delivers a complete database platform for hybrid cloud, enabling you to easily build, deploy and manage solutions that span on-premises and cloud.

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