As of June of this year, Microsoft SQL Server 2016 – Microsoft’s database management software – has been unleashed for commercial use. There are many new features that enterprises will benefit from that its predecessor didn’t offer or lacked. This beefed up suite of features will have new users grinning from ear to ear. Here is why your organization needs to make the switch to the new and improved SQL Server.

Home is where your data is…

SQL Server 2016 is blowing the roof off of data access and how fast data analysis is performed. Why? Updating machine learning models, deploying new models, and monitoring performance can be done in the database without redeploying applications. R Services (In-database) allows users to to use the R language and packages to create models and generate predictions using your SQL Server data. R Services (In-database) integrates the R language with the SQL Server which means you don’t have to move your data anywhere. Because of this, you can not only eliminate extra costs from having to move your data back and forth, but you can also eliminate any security risks by keeping your data in one place. SQL Server R Services is a new feature for SQL Server 2016 and a big one at that. In addition, users can expect to deliver advanced analytics at extremely fast speeds with SQL Server’s built-in R Service. Since you don’t have to move your data anywhere in order to analyze it, you will be gaining real-time insights.

Reporting Services

Previous versions also had reporting services (SSRS). Users can create, deploy, and manage mobile and paginated reports using data from various data sources with enhanced data visualization. However, a new Reporting Services web portal is available to users that incorporates key performance indicators (KPIs), mobile and paginated reports, Excel and Power BI Desktop files. Reporting Services Mobile Report Publisher also allows users to create and publish SQL Server mobile reports to the Reporting Services web portal. Mobile reports are very handy even on a smaller mobile device. Although mobile reports are optimized for users who are viewing these reports on a mobile device, mobile reports can be connected to various data sources that can scale to any screen size and save to a Reporting Service server and view them on a desktop or in the Power BI mobile app on many different devices/platforms. SQL Server Report Publisher has three chart types including timing, category. These chart types also have corresponding comparison charts to compare data.

Always Encrypted Feature

We already talked about how the new R Services feature allows you to keep your data with you, therefore increasing security and making you feel all soft, fuzzy, and secure inside right? Well there is another function SQL Server 2016 has called the “Always Encrypted” function. This feature protects sensitive data that is stored in Azure SQL Database or SQL Server databases by encrypting sensitive data inside client applications without revealing the encryption keys to the SQL Database or SQL Server. This is a great feature for those who want to create a barrier between authorized users and those who should just be managing the data. Data can be encrypted whether it is in use or just being stored. Always Encrypted uses two different types of keys – column encryption keys and column master keys – to encrypt the data. Randomized encryption and deterministic encryption are the two types of encryption that Always Encrypted supports. Deterministic encryption generates the same encrypted value for any given plain text value, while randomized encryption encrypts data in a way that isn’t as predictable. Although randomized encryption is more secure, it also prevents searching, grouping, indexing, and joining on encrypted columns. Either way, it’s nice to have options, especially when it comes to securing your data.

Optimized Performance Level

Although all of these added features are really the sprinkles on top, the cake and foundation of any type of software is its performance level and SQL Server 2016 has outdone itself with its latest version. Many users are experiencing extreme speed improvements, working more efficiently, and getting important real-time operational analytics with SQL Server 2016. Not to mention that all of these features are already built in, reducing significant costs on storage, keeping data handy for querying in Azure, and creating performance consistency through Query Store. It’s really music to one’s ear when you can improve operations and efficiencies and reduce spending at the end of the day.

Stretch Database

Stretch database is a new feature that migrates your cold data (data that you’re not using on a regular basis) securely to the Microsoft Azure cloud. There are many benefits to this feature for enterprises. One being it will significantly reduce costs. How? You can keep your data stored in the cloud and available to query with the ability to choose your pricing tier and configure custom settings in the Azure Portal to adjust as needed. As you migrate your data to the cloud, rest assured that  it is secure in doing so with SQL Server’s Always Encrypted feature in addition to SQL Server’s other security add-ons.  The SQL Server Stretch Database service on Azure also allows you to scale SQL Server with up to 1 petabyte of cloud storage.

SQL Server on Linux

As mentioned in a previous post announcing SQL Server’s Linux support, Microsoft is unlocking its Windows-only policy and giving SQL Server the ability to run on Linux OS. Although rumor has it that this won’t be available until mid-2017, it’s a huge and anticipated move on Microsoft’s part to stay competitive – specifically against Oracle.

These new features certainly build a pretty convincing case for enterprises to move over to SQL Server 2016 to reduce costs and increase agility. Enterprises will be thrilled with the enhancements SQL Server 2016 has to offer with its performance, enhanced security, and advanced reporting and analytics features.