It’s not often that a service pack release for Microsoft SQL Server deserves as much attention – let alone a keynote announcement – as the first service pack for SQL Server 2016 does. Most service packs don’t unlock key enterprise edition features into standard edition however.

In his keynote address Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President for Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft Corporation, announced just that this week at Connect 2016.

Guthrie started by stating that Microsoft is about any developer, any application, and any platform.  Throughout the entire keynote, across all speakers, it was stressed over and over again that Microsoft is for the Developer. The enhancements in platforms and tools: from Visual Studio to SQL Server are squarely aimed and outreach to open source developers and independent software vendors. Microsoft has reached the stage where they’ve committed enough resources and retrenched in the last few years to significantly address stability and strength to their core products in the Data Platform, Development, and Cloud space. It’s now very apparent that they plan to spend the capital they’ve committed to those aspects of their business to squarely commit to demonstrating that the current Microsoft – the new Microsoft – is focused on being the best in class for providing tools and platforms to the generation of developers who came into their own with the impression that Microsoft was the antithesis and perhaps the nemesis and not the ally to their success. 

At 90 minutes into the Connect 2016 keynote is when data professionals were brought into the discussion. Guthrie started by reminding attendees that Microsoft SQL Server continues to be the visionary leader in Operational Database Management Systems – per its positioning in the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for that class of products. Additionally Microsoft SQL Server:

  1. Is the most secure database for the past 6 years according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology

  2. Has the highest performing data warehouse platform holding the top three TPC-H benchmarks

  3. Offers end-to-end mobile intelligence, including the lowest cost-per-user for self-service BI ($120) when compared to Tableau ($480) and Oracle ($2,230)

  4. Provides in-database Advanced Analytics using R language now included inside of Microsoft SQL Server allowing for up to 1 million predictions/sec

After laying the groundwork for why Microsoft SQL Server 2016 is a great platform across the board. Guthrie then made his case for developer adoption and announced the enhancements coming in the latest service pack.  Until now most of the advanced analytics and security features were only available in Enterprise Edition releases of Microsoft SQL Server: In-memory OLTP and DW, Operational Analytics, Polybase, advanced compression and partitioning functionality, Always Encrypted; these were not available in Standard or Express editions of the product. This is seen as a barrier to development because developers and independent software vendors alike needed to have the most expensive edition of SQL Server to develop against and market to in order to take advantage of these features.

Service Pack 1 for Microsoft SQL Server 2016, per Guthrie, now provides for those advanced features listed above to be in Enterprise, Standard, and Express editions of SQL Server.

Additionally Guthrie announced the availability of Microsoft SQL Server on both Windows and Linux; combining the industry leading in-memory performance and security of SQL Server with a widely adopted open source platform. Adding connectors for .Net, Java, Node.js, PHP, Python, and more; in addition to functionality for developing locally on macOS with Docker.  Microsoft SQL Server on Linux will be available for Red Hat and Ubuntu, and within Docker.

Lara Rubbelke, Principal Software Development Engineer Lead at Microsoft was then introduced to provide a demonstration of installing SQL Server on Linux via a Docker container on a Macbook. There are 29 words in that last sentence. Until a year ago only the first 20 would have been appropriate. The last nine were not expected to ever be considered truth until recently. A single command line for accepting the End-User Licensing Agreement (EULA), setting the “sa” password and identifying the listening ports and thanks to being able to pull the image from Docker Hub SQL Server was ready to be used for development:

                              docker run –e “ACCEPT EULA=Y” –e “SA_PASSWORD=<some_value>” –p 1443:1443 –d <path to install binaries>

Within seconds Rubbelke was connected to a Linux install of SQL Server inside a Docker container and never touching Microsoft Windows once.

Guthrie then returned to the stage to announce that the private preview for SQL Server on Linux had ended and that the Linux/Microsoft SQL Server public preview was now open for all.

Microsoft continues to stress outreach towards application developers and their Intelligent Applications initiative by making it easier for developers to code against the Microsoft Data Platform be it SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, or DocumentDB. This single surface initiative allows application developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to code against a single code base of Microsoft SQL Server and eliminates the need to code around impediments to taking advantage of what were, up until now, enterprise edition-only features. Furthermore developers and ISVs alike are no longer constrained to a single operating system with the move towards Linux as an option for operating system hosting.

Service Pack 1 for Microsoft SQL Server 2016 is available for download here.

The public preview for Microsoft SQL Server on Linux is available here.