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SQL Server 2016 Officially Releases

After a comprehensive testing period, Microsoft's latest database platform has hit its general availability status.

SQL Server 2016, which has been in different forms of closed and public testing over the last year, makes huge improvements and adds major features to simplify management of enterprise data, according to Joseph Sirosh, corporate VP of the data group at Microsoft.

"SQL Server 2016 simplifies analytics in the way databases simplified enterprise data management, by moving analytics close to where the data is managed instead of the other way around," wrote Sirosh, in a blog announcing the release. "It introduces a new paradigm where all joins, aggregations and machine learning are performed securely within the database itself without moving the data out, thereby enabling analytics on real-time transactions with great speed and parallelism."

Based on the scope and amount of new features making it into SQL Server 2016, Microsoft said that this is one of the biggest product releases, as it aims to cut into the massive lead Oracle has in the enterprise database space.

A key feature making it into SQL Server 2016 is the inclusion of the open source software R, which provides instant data mining analysis without the need to extract the data during analysis. This allows users to stick with the same SQL Server interface during the entire process.

Microsoft also strongly focused on security for this release with the inclusion of new safeguards, including Always Encrypted, which keeps data encrypted no matter if in transit or at rest; Transparent Data Encryption, which, according to Microsoft, provides a low-resource way to encrypt data at a page level; and Dynamic Data Masking and Row Level Security, which grants developers more control over apps that connect to the database.

While today marks the release of a new product for Microsoft, a large community of IT, developers and testers have had access to one form or another of the database platform for over a year, and has had access to what basically was a feature-complete product in mid-April with the release of SQL Server 2016 Release Candidate 3.

"SQL Server 2016 features were first released in Microsoft Azure and stress-tested in real-world through over 1.7 million Azure SQL DB databases," wrote Sirosh. "It is battle-tested and dozens of our customers have already been running on-premises production workloads on SQL Server 2016 prior to its general availability, a strong testament to its maturity as a product."

Last month the company unveiled the different versions of SQL Server 2016, along with announcing today's release date, and in today's announcement took a direct shot at Oracle on the proposition of value. The company touted that its SQL Server 2016 Enterprise edition comes packed with every add on available out of the box and is 11.7 times less expensive than a comparable database package from Oracle. Further, Microsoft is also paying for those wanting to make the switch from a competing database platform with free SQL Server licenses.

Microsoft has released a comprehensive pricing chart, with the flagship Enterprise version available at a per core licensing model or an open no level estimated retailer price of $14,256. The company is also offering a free evaluation version of its platform, called SQL Server 2016 Developer, which includes the full feature set and will allow for the creation and testing of apps in a non-production environment for Visual Studio and MSDN subscribers.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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