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What's New in SQL Server 2016: Unleashing the Power of Data Management

SQL Server 2016

SQL Server 2016 is not just any upgrade; it's a quantum leap forward for Microsoft's flagship data management platform. Packed with an array of powerful new features and improvements, this version represents a significant milestone for IT professionals and organizations looking to harness the potential of their data more effectively and securely. In this comprehensive review, we will explore the groundbreaking changes that SQL Server 2016 brings to the table and the profound impact it has on the industry.

What's New In SQL Server 2016 - Redefining Security in Data Management

Security is at the core of any data management strategy, and SQL Server 2016 goes to great lengths to fortify your defenses. With new features like Always Encrypted, Row-Level Security, and Dynamic Data Masking, SQL Server now offers a multi-faceted approach to protecting your most sensitive data.

Always Encrypted

Always Encrypted offers unprecedented levels of privacy and security by keeping data encrypted at all times, including when it is being used. This helps prevent unauthorized access to your data from outside the database, with encryption keys never being exposed to the database system.

Row-Level Security

Row-Level Security allows you to implement more fine-grained control over the rows of data that individual users can access. Using predicates, you can control access rights on a per-row basis without changing your applications.

Dynamic Data Masking

Dynamic Data Masking (DDM) is a powerful tool that allows you to limit the exposure of data to end users by masking sensitive data in the result set of a query over designated database fields, all without changing any application code.

These features are game-changers for organizations looking to enforce stricter data access controls and comply with evolving regulatory standards such as GDPR and CCPA.

In-Memory OLTP: The Need for Speed

In-Memory OLTP was introduced in SQL Server 2014 as a high-performance, memory-optimized engine built into the core SQL Server database. SQL Server 2016 extends this feature, enhancing both the performance and scalability of transaction processing.

Greater Scalability

With support for native stored procedures executing over a greater T-SQL surface area, In-Memory OLTP in SQL Server 2016 can handle a larger variety of workloads, scaling to a whole new level.

Improved Concurrency

The new version of In-Memory OLTP boasts increased support for both online and parallel workloads, with improved contention management to ensure that resources are optimized.

The benefits are clear: faster transactions, higher throughput, and a more responsive application that can keep up with the demands of a growing business.

Stretch Database: Bridging On-Premises Data to the Cloud

Stretch Database is a revolutionary feature that allows you to selectively stretch warm/cold and historical data from a SQL Server 2016 to Azure. This seamless integration extends a database without having to change the application.

Reduced Storage Costs

By keeping frequently accessed data on-premises and shifting older, less-accessed data to Azure, you can significantly reduce storage costs without compromising on performance.

Improved Operational Efficiency

Stretch Database simplifies the management and monitoring of your data, freeing your IT resources to focus on more strategic business initiatives.

Query Store: The Diagnostics Powerhouse

The Query Store feature is an innovative and effective way to diagnose and resolve performance problems by capturing a history of queries, execution plans, and runtime statistics. It's an essential tool for maintaining peak database performance.

Performance Monitoring

By monitoring performance over time, Query Store allows you to view historical trends and identify unplanned performance degradations.

Plan Forcing

You can now choose to force the query processor to use a pre-selected plan for particular queries by using the Query Store. This is immensely helpful in maintaining the database's performance consistency.

PolyBase: Expanding Data Horizons

PolyBase is an exciting feature that lets you run queries that join data from external sources with your relational tables in SQL Server without moving the data. With support for Hadoop and Azure Blob Storage, PolyBase makes big data processing a natural extension of SQL Server's capabilities.

Seamlessness in Data Integration

By minimizing the barriers between different data platforms, PolyBase enables a more fluid and integrated data management ecosystem that is essential for modern analytics needs.

Accelerated Analytics

Leveraging the in-memory columnstore index, PolyBase can dramatically accelerate query performance against your data, no matter the source.

JSON Support: Bridging the Gap with Developer Trends

JSON is a popular format for exchanging data between a client and a server, and SQL Server 2016 brings native support for processing JSON objects. This is a great leap forward for developers who work with semi-structured data.

JSON Example

JSON Parsing and Querying

With built-in functions to parse, index, and query JSON data, SQL Server 2016 streamlines the handling of semi-structured data, enabling robust analytics and reporting capabilities.

Close Integration with Modern Applications

The native support for JSON makes SQL Server 2016 an ideal choice for the backend of modern web and mobile applications, ensuring seamless data integration and processing.

Making the Transition to SQL Server 2016

The features and updates introduced in SQL Server 2016 offer a wealth of opportunities to enhance data management. By understanding and embracing these changes, database professionals and organizations can unlock new levels of performance, scalability, and security.

It's vital to invest time in learning about these new features and planning a smooth transition. The benefits extend far beyond the technological realm – they can elevate your organization's ability to draw insights from data, make informed decisions, and stay competitive in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

For those yet to make the jump, it's an exciting time to explore the potential of SQL Server 2016 and integrate its capabilities into your data infrastructure. With the right approach, you can transform your data management into a strategic asset that drives growth and innovation.

In conclusion, SQL Server 2016 is far more than a data management tool; it's a platform for future-proofing your data strategy. I encourage all database professionals and organizations to explore the depths of this robust update and consider how it can be leveraged to catapult data-driven initiatives to new heights. The opportunity is vast, and the stakes are high. It's time to embrace the power of SQL Server 2016 and revolutionize the way you manage and interact with data.

What's New In SQL 2016

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