Spark 2.0 Out

Apache Spark 2.0 has officially been released.  Vinay Shukla gives us some highlights:

Project Tungsten has completed another major phase and with new completely new stage code generation, significant performance improvements have been delivered. Parquet and ORC file processing have also delivered performance improvements.

Databricks Community Edition offers (tiny) free clusters with Spark 2.0 on top of Scala 2.10 and Scala 2.11.

SQL Server 2016 CU1 Bugfixes

Andrew Pruski notes an important bugfix in SQL Server 2016 CU1:

SQL Server 2016 CU1 has been released and one thing I noticed was: –

FIX: Canceling a backup task crashes SQL Server 2014 or 2016

That’s pretty nasty, when I originally clicked on the link I was expecting to see detailed a pretty precise set of circumstances in which that bug can occur but no no, apparently not. Cancelling any backup task can lead to this happening.

Andrew then argues in favor of waiting for SPs before deploying new versions of software, having been burned on it in the past.  I don’t agree with that philosophy; regardless, I recommend reading his post.

Listing Enterprise-Only Features

Patrick LeBlanc has an embedded report which shows Enterprise Edition-only features:

Someone recently asked me if there was a list of all the SQL Server “Enterprise Only” features available on the web.  I pointed them to the Features Supported by the Editions of SQL Server web page and thought I was done.  He stated that this site was good, but did not provide a simple list of enterprise only features.  I thought for a second, and my thoughts went straight to Power BI.  Why?  Simple, there are tables on the web page, and Power BI can easily extract that data into a data model.  I am not going to go into all those details in this blog post.  Maybe one day, but for now take a look at this interactive Power BI report and let me know what you think.

I think this layout is a bit easier to read and follow than the features website, although I’d love to be able to click on an item and get more information on the feature.

R 3.3.1 Available

Kevin Feasel


R, Versions

David Smith reports that a new version of R is now available, 3.3.1:

This minor update, codenamed “Bug in Your Hair”, makes a few small fixes to the R 3.3.0 release. Bugs fixed include mostly rarely-encountered cases like generating Gamma random numbers with zero or infinite rate parameters, and correctly matching text (with the matchfunction) that only differed in the encoding.

There are no new features in this update, and all R code and packages should work with R 3.3.1 just as they did with R 3.3.0. For a complete list of the fixes in R 3.3.1, follow the link below.

Even though this is a small update, it might be useful to check out.

New No-Longer-Features In SQL Server 2016

Bob Pusateri acts as SQL grim reaper:

32-bit SQL Server. SQL Server 2016 is 64-bit only. If for whatever reason you’re running on a 32-bit architecture, sadly you’re now out of luck – 2014 is the end of the road. On the bright side, there’s probably some new hardware in your future!

Compatibility Level 90. If you’re using compatibility level for backwards compatibility, the oldest available version in SQL Server 2016 is 100, which corresponds to SQL Server 2008. Compatibility level 90, SQL Server 2005, is no longer an option.

Bob also covers a few deprecated features, none of which (hopefully) are in regular use in your environment.

Waiting For SP1

Guy Glantser hates “wait for SP1” advice:

Historical Facts

Throughout my career I have never seen an RTM version that was substantially less stable then the following SP1. Sure, there were bugs and issues. Sometimes there were critical bugs and issues. But there were just as much bugs and issues in SP1 and in SP2, and so on. I haven’t conducted a thorough research, so I don’t have a statistical proof, but these are the facts, at least from my experience.

I’d add one more thing:  pre-release versions of SQL Server run in production as part of Microsoft TAP (older link, and I think RDP and TAP have merged together at this point, but I don’t have those inside details).  These are real companies with real workloads running pre-RTM versions of SQL Server.  I work for a company which is in the program, and we were running our data warehouse on CTP 3 and then RCs.  By the time RTM hits the shelves, there’s already been a good deal of burn-in.

Choose Your Edition

Grant Fritchey explains the differences between different editions of SQL Server:

SQL Server Enterprise Edition is the high end. Here is where you need to go to multi-terrabytes in size and you have massive transaction loads. You’re looking at very sophisticated availability and disaster recovery. Again, the name gives it away. You’re generally only going to this edition when you’re working at an enterprise level of scale and architecture. Since you’re just getting started, don’t worry about this.

My version of the story is, “Buy Enterprise Edition.  Don’t cheap out because you’ll regret it later.”  Grant’s version is much more thorough.

Launch Event Thoughts

Patrick Keisler sums up his thoughts on the Raleigh-Durham SQL Server 2016 Launch Discovery Day:

Your solution must be completed in 3 hours.

On paper this all sounds pretty easy, but in practice it was quite hard. I am no BI developer and the other members of my team did not have any expertise in that area either, but we still managed to create a solution and have fun doing so.

The first issue was had was how to combine our development work on the same database. This one was easy…just use Azure. In the span of about 30 minutes, I spun up a new Azure VM with SQL Server 2016 pre-installed, uploaded the database, setup logins, and opened the appropriate ports. I then gave my team members the URL and credentials so they each could connect from their laptops.

These are good thoughts, and I completely agree with the point that better data definition would have made for a better event.  Each one of the teams had to spend a lot of time cleaning up data, and I think that limited the teams’ ability to do really cool things.  I’d love to put something like this on again, but if that happens, I’m going to make sure we start with a good data model so people can do fun things on top of that rather than spend all their time scrubbing data (unless that’s the point of the exercise).

More Licensing Notes

Joey D’Antoni has additional information on licensing for SQL Server 2016:

SQL Server 2016 launched last week to great reviews and with a ton of great new features. I have been working with this version for well over a year now and extremely happy to see it hit RTM and be broadly adopted. So as DBAs it always sucks when you get excited about new features, only to find out the price changed, or vendor “O” made that feature a cost option. So what’s new with SQL Server 2016 licensing? (you won’t this as a session title at any upcoming SQL Server events).  Well first the good news—SQL Server 2016 is the same price and 2012 and 2014 (roughly $6800 core for Enterprise Edition). That’s definitely good news—Microsoft gave us a bunch of new functionality and didn’t raise the price. Additionally, if you see my below post on what is in Standard Edition, they added a lot of functionality there, too.

But we know finance and marketing employees have jobs to do as well, and there is no way they were letting a major version release happen without some changes. So let’s take a look at the one’s Denny Cherry (b|t) and I could glean out of the licensing guide. Please download and read for yourself.

There are a couple of interesting nuances that you’ll want to read up on.

T-SQL Tuesday: SQL 2016

Michael J. Swart is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday:

SQL Server 2016 went RTM this week and so naturally, we’re going to write about it. Here are a few writing prompts for you:

  • Check out what’s new. Microsoft has written a lot about their new features. Thomas Larock has written a really nice landing page for those posts, SQL Server 2016: It Just Runs Faster – Thomas Larock. Look through those links. Do you feel optimistic about 2016? Or maybe a bit disappointed? Let us know either way

  • Haven’t had time to download the bits, install them, explore and form thoughts on 2016 yet? Have no fear, check out Microsoft’s Virtual Labs. It lets you explore features without worrying about all the setup. In minutes you’ll be typing SELECT 'hello world';

Get writing!


August 2017
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