Microsoft today is announcing the general availability (GA) of its SQL Server database software. For more than a year now, Microsoft has been rolling out public previews and release candidates of the software, and now the final version is out. A month ago, Microsoft said SQL Server 2016 would hit GA on June 1, and that statement has proven to be accurate.
This edition stands out from SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2012, and earlier releases in a few ways, but probably the most significant is the deep integration of the R programming language that’s used for data science. This type of deep integration was made possible by Microsoft’s 2015 acquisition of R distribution vendor Revolution Analytics.
“SQL Server 2016 simplifies analytics in the way databases simplified enterprise data management, by moving analytics close to where the data is managed instead of the other way around,” Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s data group, wrote in a blog post.
It introduces a new paradigm where all joins, aggregations and machine learning are performed securely within the database itself without moving the data out, thereby enabling analytics on real-time transactions with great speed and parallelism. As a result, analytical applications can now be far simpler and need only query the database for analytic results. Updating machine learning models, deploying new models, and monitoring their performance can now be done in the database without recompiling and redeploying applications. Furthermore, the database can serve as a central server for the enterprise’s analytical models and multiple intelligent applications can leverage the same models.
But the price of the database is staying the same even as performance increases and functionality expands, Sirosh wrote.
There are many other SQL database options available, and NoSQL databases will be able to take their place for certain applications. But SQL Server is a long-trusted brand, and the release is one that customers have been awaiting. And it will cost 1/10 of what Oracle software would cost for the same functionality, Sirosh wrote.