In the first part of this two-part article, I talked about a few of my predictions and wishes for SQL Server in 2013. Some of these predict what we anticipate regarding the next major version of SQL Server: larger databases which require even more space, CPUs, disks and I/O, and more customers deploying AlwaysOn Availabity Groups. Here are a few more wishes and predictions on SQL Server trends for the coming year.
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SQL Saturday 250
The SQL Saturday concept has taken in ways no one ever thought that it would, with 200 SQL Saturday events being run over the last couple years. I know that there are a lot more SQL Saturdays in the planning stages, and I think that we might see SQL Saturday 250 at some point in 2013. SQL Saturday events have taken place in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia -- basically everywhere people live, except for Antarctica. With so many people looking to run SQL Saturday events in their areas, around 50 of them happenning in 2013 doesn't sound all that unreasonable. We've scheduled through No. 205 so far, so getting up to No. 250 isn't unlikely.
As we continue to have more SQL Saturday events, I also predict that the events will grow larger and more popular, with 500 or more attendees. These larger events will provide more people with the ability to attend their local SQL Saturday events, exposing them to some of the best training available without cost (except perhaps a few dollars for lunch).
More NoSQL integration with SQL Server
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In 2012, Microsoft announced that the next software refresh for the PDW was going to include integration between SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse and Hadoop. I hope to see more announcements like this for standard-edition SQL Server as well. During the SQL PASS Keynotes last November, we were shown the PDW creating a link out of a Hadoop cluster, so you can query the Hadoop cluster directly, using T-SQL. I hope we can get this same level of integration, specifically the CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE syntax, directly in the SQL Server database engine. Having this sort of power directly in the normal "box" version of SQL Server would be an amazing feature for customers looking for ways to write queries that join NoSQL data to relational SQL server data for reporting and analysis purposes.
On top of the Hadoop interaction, I would love to see Microsoft announce that they are integrating with other NoSQL platforms, so SQL Server can easily join with platforms such as Cassandra. This will expand the SQL Server ecosystem even further and make the SQL Server platform an even more valuable tool.
Third-party vendors getting off of SQL Server 2000
The number of people using SQL Server 2000 as a production system is massive and is frequently organizations’ dirty little IT secret. This is often caused by third-party application providers’ requirements, especially in the medical field. I really hope that 2013 is the year that these vendors start looking at moving toward newer versions of databases. Anything that is part of a credit card payment system is going to have to be upgraded in order to maintain PCI compliance. Unfortunately, the other certification systems, such as Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), don't require that the systems be supportable by vendors -- a change that I'd love to see, but sadly don't expect to.
While there will be some vendors who choose to stay on SQL 2000 for many more years, at least some will want to see their database platforms supported by Microsoft, since it is the original database platform vendor. This will require that the database platforms for these applications be upgraded to a newer version. Will these applications upgrade to SQL Server 2012? I can almost guarantee that the answer to this question is "no," but even upgrading to a slightly later version, such as SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2, will probably make many users very happy for a long time. Frankly, the biggest reason I don't see them going all the way to SQL Server 2012 is that there's no direct upgrade path to take from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2012, so the application upgrade story would basically suck.
While I don't have a crystal ball, and Microsoft may go out of its way to prove me wrong, I hope that most, if not all, of the things I've discussed in these two articles come true. These would not only make SQL Server a much stronger product for use within the enterprise, but also strengthen the SQL Server community, of which we all are members. The stronger our community is, the better we all become as users of the SQL Server product; the better our speakers become at things such as SQL Saturday, SQL PASS Summit, TechEd, SQL Connections and other events; and the better our companies become at being able to use the SQL Server product that we all use on a daily basis.