This content is part of the Essential Guide: SQL Server 2016 release guide: News and analysis on the new version
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SQL Server 2016 preview shows off new features, improvements

Experts discuss the public preview of SQL Server 2016 and the best new features as early adopters ready themselves to put SQL Server 2016 into production.

One of senior DBA Basit Farooq's clients is making a jump forward with its new financial application platform. While its existing servers will continue to run SQL Server 2012 and 2014, the servers for the new platform are going directly to SQL Server 2016 when it officially releases in October.

Farooq is currently in the initial testing phases for SQL Server 2016. Farooq first heard about the release of SQL Server 2016 while attending Microsoft Ignite. He downloaded the CTP 2 preview as soon as it was available and has had a little over a week to explore the new features.

According to Farooq, one of the favorite new features for his developers is the integration of PolyBase, which allows SQL Server 2016 to connect to Hadoop via T-SQL programs. "Previously [Microsoft] never offered analytical tools. This version has an analytical tool in the form of PolyBase's connection to SQL Server," he said. By incorporating PolyBase into SQL Server 2016, organizations like Farooq's client's no longer have to purchase it separately. Also, connecting SQL Server and Hadoop means that "data is actually stored on the server," whereas previously you had to use storage.

Another favorite feature is the JSON incorporation of the R language. The incorporation of R is important for data scientists because they won't have to take code out of the database in order to run the R programming language. R allows the user to run queries on server data.

Farooq said that for his work as a DBA, the most important new features are upgrades to performance and security. "We need clients' confidential data to be more secure," Farooq said, "so we need security features like Always Encrypted." Currently, Farooq runs third-party security software DbDefence against his data to encrypt it. He is looking forward to using Always Encrypted, which keeps data encrypted even during transactions and queries. Farooq knows of no other relational database management system that provides a feature like Always Encrypted.

Other features that Farooq likes include the enhancements to in-memory that increase data by a hundredfold and the support for indexes in in-memory. He added, "The query data store and live query statistics will make all DBAs lives easier." The query data store and live query statistics allow DBAs to see which queries are taking up the most resources and plan accordingly.

SQL Server 2016 incorporates customer wishes

Farooq's client isn't alone in its rapid adoption of SQL Server 2016. With the recent release of the public preview, other SQL Server users are taking notice.

Denny Cherry, owner and principal consultant of Denny Cherry and Associates Consulting, has two clients trying out SQL Server 2016. Cherry is tied in with the development team for SQL Server 2016 and, through the Microsoft Early Access Program, and has been able to work with SQL Server 2016 for the past three months. Because of the extra lead time, Cherry has a client who is in the process of putting SQL Server 2016 into production right now.

Next Steps

Find out more about the new features announced for SQL Server 2016

Learn about another way to combine SQL Server and Hadoop with the Analytics Platform System

Dig Deeper on SQL Server Security