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 features boost cloud, security and analytics support

In a podcast, SearchSQLServer's Jessica Sirkin discusses the noteworthy features in SQL Server 2016, reactions from early users and issues to consider in thinking about upgrading.

Last month, at the Microsoft Ignite 2015 conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced a SQL Server 2016 public preview release for this summer, and attention centered on a host of new features -- for example, one that lets SQL Server users "stretch" their databases into the cloud, and another that keeps data encrypted even when it's in use. In this podcast, SearchSQLServer associate site editor Jessica Sirkin discusses Stretch Database, Always Encrypted and other SQL Server 2016 features, and how early users are reacting to the additions.

Sirkin said Microsoft is upgrading SQL Server in a few areas where the database previously didn't offer as much as users wanted. For example, the Stretch Database technology boosts Microsoft's support for hybrid clouds. SQL Server 2016 also adds some advanced analytics features that were missing from previous versions, she said. That includes integration with Microsoft's PolyBase data querying tool, which will enable users to connect the database to Hadoop clusters via T-SQL programs.

According to Sirkin, the features in SQL Server 2016 have received a mostly positive response from a couple test users who she has spoken to. She said Basit Farooq, a senior database administrator for the Medical Protection Society in the U.K., is "very excited" about Always Encrypted and performance enhancements to the In-Memory OLTP engine that Microsoft introduced in SQL Server 2014. Farooq thinks those features "will make the lives of DBAs easier," she added.

Sirkin has also interviewed Denny Cherry, principal consultant at Denny Cherry and Associates Consulting, who believes that Microsoft is paying close attention to what customers have said they wanted in SQL Server. "He thinks Microsoft is making changes based on that feedback and addressing the needs of its users in this version," she said, though she noted that Cherry said he didn't see anything particularly "earth-shattering" in the new features.

As for the right time to upgrade to SQL Server 2016, Sirkin said that largely depends on the organization. "If you're already in the middle of an upgrade [to an earlier version], there is no reason to stop it and start over with SQL Server 2016," she said. And if nothing is in the works, "don't rush to upgrade unless SQL Server 2016 has a particular feature you need."

Listen to the full podcast for more information on some of the key SQL Server 2016 features and upgrade considerations.

Corlyn Voorhees is an editorial assistant for SearchSQLServer. Email us at [email protected], and follow us on Twitter: @SearchSQLServer.

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