Microsoft needs to make money. I get it. There’s no such thing as a free etc. But do they really need to make Enterprise licensing money off of people who will never use a single Enterprise feature? Should a small shop with a lot of data really have to make a $5000 jump per core just to cache another 128-256GB of data? That seems unreasonable to me. RAM is cheap. Licensing is not.
I wouldn’t suggest à la carte pricing, because licensing is already complicated enough. What could make sense is offering higher memory limits to shops with Software Assurance. Say up to 512GB on Standard Edition. That way, Microsoft can still manage to keep the lights on, and smaller shops that don’t need all the pizzaz and razzmatazz of Enterprise Edition can still hope to cache a reasonable amount of their data.
It’s an interesting argument. I’m always sympathetic to having more features (and I’m including stretching limits as a feature here) in Standard Edition as not every company can afford Enterprise Edition.
Good-bye, Business Intelligence Edition
The biggest surprise to me was the removal of the Business Intelligence edition that was initially introduced in SQL Server 2012. Truthfully, it never seemed to fit in the environments where I worked, so I guess it makes sense. Hopefully, fewer licensing options will make it easier for people to understand their licensing and pick the edition that works best for them.
2016 looks to be a great version for BI.
In my circles, there are number of people who are complaining about the lack of features in standard edition. While I do agree that Always Encrypted should be in every version, as lack of strong data encryption is a problem that continues to confound IT. Putting Always Encrypted in all editions would be a good start to having wide ISV adoption of the Always Encrypted feature.
However, even without Always Encrypted, Microsoft added a LOT of new features to Standard Edition. Let’s list them (no specific order here):
There’s a pretty good amount of value in upgrading, even if you’re living on Standard Edition.
SQL Server 2016 will be generally available on June 1, 2016. This will allow you to build mission-critical, and business critical intelligent applications with the most secure database1, the highest performance data warehouse2, end-to-end mobile BI on any device, in-database advanced analytics, in-memory capabilities optimized for all workloads, and a consistent experience from on-premises to cloud. These capabilities are built-in to SQL Server for industry-leading low cost of ownership.
Interesting Standard versus Enterprise bits for me:
SQL Server 2016 RC 3 is the last of our publicly-available release candidates. You can try this in your development and test environments, and it is available for download today.
In SQL Server 2016 RC 3, enhancements consisted primarily of bug fixes. We continue to refine the product for general availability. For the current release notes, see SQL Server 2016 Release Notes.
That “last of our publicly-available release candidates” thing says to me that we’re going to see RTM soon.
I remember the first time I used SQL Server 2005.
I was a database administrator working on a new-build data warehouse project in Miami. Both our data warehouse and SQL Server 2005 were looking like they were going to come out at the same time, and I kept hoping I could make the timing work.
SQL Server 2005 looked so seductive. Let’s take just a moment to think back about all the cool new technologies it introduced:
SQL Server 2005 was, in my opinion, the first enterprise-quality version of SQL Server. 2000 was a great start but wasn’t quite there yet. This version, though, was quite nice.
In SQL Server 2016 RC 2, enhancements include:
R Services setup – the setup process for R Services is much more integrated into SQL Server setup. There is no longer a need to manually download and install Microsoft R open and R Server if the SQL Server is connected to the Internet; it becomes part of the SQL Server install sequence.
SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) – This release of SSMS features an update to the Visual Studio 2015 shell bringing enhancements such as the quick launch toolbar and improved theming support.
Mobile reports – Brand Packages will now be downloaded to the mobile report publisher from a server running RC2 and available for use in report creation. Basic mobile report content migration between servers is now supported.
These look like wrap-up tasks. It’s good to see R being integrated a little bit better; that installation series seemed a bit hacky, whereas this sounds a lot more polished.
Exciting news! Starting today, SQL Server 2014 Developer Edition is now a free download for Visual Studio Dev Essentials members. We are making this change so that all developers can leverage the capabilities that SQL Server 2014 has to offer for their data solution, and this is another step in making SQL Server more accessible. SQL Server Developer Edition is for development and testing only, and not for production environments or for use with production data.
Visual Studio Dev Essentials is Microsoft’s most comprehensive free developer program ever, with everything you need to build and deploy your app on any platform, including state-of-the-art tools, the power of the cloud, training, and support.
SQL Server 2016 will also be covered under this plan. Granted, Developer Edition would not break the bank anyhow, but it does lower (ever so slightly) those barriers to entry, and I think it’ll be a driving point for SQL Server on Linux.
Back in December, I published a post entitled, “How I spot not-yet-documented features in SQL Server CTPs.” In that post, I revealed a few of the ways that I get an early jump on what’s changed between CTP and/or RC builds of SQL Server. You can do those same things if you want to see what new objects or columns have been created, or which system modules have changed, between – say – SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2016. This will likely be a bigger list than any of the individual sets of items I’ve posted about in our SQL Server 2016 builds post, but the same concepts apply – create a linked server to the older instance, optionally create some synonyms for easy adaptation, and go to town.
There are a few other things I check as we get closer to the final release, and they can be quite revealing about what features have made it into the product. We can also get some insight into things they tried to get in but couldn’t (for example, there are error messages and Intellisense verbiage for
STRING_AGG(), which does not seem to be in the cards for RTM). I’m going to point out a few, but I’m not going to iterate through all of the things I’ve learned – this is more to serve as as a starting point so you can experiment on your own.
If you’re interested in this kind of spelunking, you can learn a lot without having to reverse engineer binaries.
Continued enhancement of Stretch Database: Stretch Database allows you to stretch operational tables in a secure manner into Azure for cost-effective historic data availability. CTP 3.3 includes multiple improvements to Stretch Database, including Azure Stretch database edition preview with support for up to 60TB, Point-in-time restore and geo-failover support.
Enhancements to In-Memory OLTP: In-Memory OLTP, which dramatically improves transaction processing performance, has added support in CTP 3.3.
Enhancements to Analysis Services DirectQuery models: Analysis Services Tabular Models running in DirectQuery mode now also allows us of DAX filters when defining roles and creation of calculated columns.
Enhancements to the new Reporting Services web portal: An updated preview of the new web portal now enables you to add the KPIs and reports you use to your Favorites, to create and edit shared data sources for your KPIs and reports, and to perform other management tasks.
Admittedly, none of those strikes me as compelling “must-download” reasons but the technical overview does have some more details.