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SQL Server 2016 first public preview now available

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Three weeks ago at Microsoft Ignite, we announced SQL Server 2016, the next major release of Microsoft’s flagship database and analytics platform, as well key innovations in the release.  Today we are pleased to announce the first public Community Technology Preview (CTP2) for SQL Server 2016.  This public preview gives an early look into many of the capabilities in the release and allows early adopters to get engaged by testing the preview in their environments or via a virtual machine in Microsoft Azure.

SQL Server 2016 provides breakthrough performance for mission critical applications and deeper insights on your data across on-premises and cloud. Top capabilities for the release include: Always Encrypted – a new capability that protects data at rest and in motion, Stretch Database – new technology that lets you dynamically stretch your warm and cold transactional data to Microsoft Azure, enhancements to our industry-leading in-memory technologies for real-time analytics on top of breakthrough transactional performance and new in-database analytics with R integration.

Unique in this release of SQL Server, we are bringing capabilities to the cloud first in Microsoft Azure SQL Database such as Row-level security and Dynamic Data Masking and then bringing the capabilities, as well as the learnings from running these at hyper-scale in Microsoft Azure, back to SQL Server to deliver proven features at scale to our on-premises offering.  This means all our customers benefit from our investments and learnings in Azure.

Key Capabilities in SQL Server 2016 CTP2

Always Encrypted

Always Encrypted, based on technology from Microsoft Research, protects data at rest and in motion. With Always Encrypted, SQL Server can perform operations on encrypted data and best of all, the encryption key resides with the application in the customers trusted environment. Encryption and decryption of data happens transparently inside the application which minimizes the changes that have to be made to existing applications.

Stretch Database

This new technology allows you to dynamically stretch your warm and cold transactional data to Microsoft Azure, so your operational data is always at hand, no matter the size, and you benefit from the low cost of Azure.  You can use Always Encrypted with Stretch Database to extend data in a more secure manner for greater peace of mind.

Real-time Operational Analytics & In-Memory OLTP

For In-Memory OLTP, which customers today are using for up to 30x faster transactions, you will now be able to apply this tuned transaction performance technology to a significantly greater number of applications and benefit from increased concurrency.  With these enhancements, we introduce the unique capability to use our in-memory columnstore delivering 100X faster queries on top of in-memory OLTP to provide real-time operational analytics while accelerating transaction performance.

Additional capabilities in SQL Server 2016 CTP2 include:

  • PolyBase – More easily manage relational and non-relational data with the simplicity of T-SQL.
  • AlwaysOn Enhancements – Achieve even higher availability and performance of your secondaries, with up to 3 synchronous replicas, DTC support and round-robin load balancing of the secondaries.
  • Row Level Security– Enables customers to control access to data based on the characteristics of the user. Security is implemented inside the database, requiring no modifications to the application.
  • Dynamic Data Masking – Supports real-time obfuscation of data so data requesters do not get access to unauthorized data.  Helps protect sensitive data even when it is not encrypted.
  • Native JSON support – Allows easy parsing and storing of JSON and exporting relational data to JSON.
  • Temporal Database support – Tracks historical data changes with temporal database support.
  • Query Data Store – Acts as a flight data recorder for a database, giving full history of query execution so DBAs can pinpoint expensive/regressed queries and tune query performance.
  • MDS enhancements – Offer enhanced server management capabilities for Master Data Services.
  • Enhanced hybrid backup to Azure – Enables faster backups to Microsoft Azure and faster restores to SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines.  Also, you can stage backups on-premises prior to uploading to Azure.

Ongoing preview updates – Coming soon!

New with SQL Server 2016, customers will have the opportunity to receive more frequent updates to their preview to help accelerate internal development and test efforts.  Instead of waiting for CTP3, customers can choose to download periodic updates to CTP2 gaining access to new capabilities and features as soon as they are available for testing.  More details will be shared when the first preview update is available.

Download SQL Server 2016 preview today!

Now that you have seen the many exciting capabilities included in SQL Server 2016 CTP2, be sure to download the preview or trial the preview using a virtual machine in Microsoft Azure and start evaluating the impact these new innovations can have for your business.  Also, be sure to share your feedback on the new SQL Server 2016 capabilities using Microsoft’s Connect tool.

As the foundation of our end-to-end data platform, with this release we continue to make it easier for customers to maximize their data dividends. With SQL Server 2016 you can capture, transform, and analyze any data, of any size, at any scale, in its native format —using the tools, languages and frameworks you know and want in a trusted environment on-premises and in the cloud.

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