Microsoft is getting ready to bring out the new SQL Server 2016 release and like every major release SQL Server 2016 introduces a lot of new features as well as a lot of enhancements to existing features. In this column I’ll give you an essential guide to all the major enhancements in the SQL Server 2016 release.

SQL Server has come a long way since it was originally released 27 years ago. Back in the early days of SQL Server 6.0/6.5 SQL Server was considered a departmental database that wasn’t able to handle enterprise workloads. That all changed when Microsoft released SQL Server 7.0 back in 1998. With the SQL Server 7.0 release Microsoft rearchitected the relational database engine and added in the OLP Services and Data Transformation Services (DTS) laying the foundation for the data platform of today. With SQL Server 2000 Microsoft added XML support and improved scalability. SQL Server 2005 added SQL Server Management Studio and Database Mirroring. Plus, DTS was replaced by Integration Services and OLAP Services was replaced by Analysis Services. SQL Server 2008 added database compression and the Resource Governor. SQL Server 2008 R2 added the PowerPivot and Master Data Services. SQL Server 2012 added AlwaysOn Availability Groups and the Columnstore Index. SQL Server 2014 added In-Memory OLTP and hybrid cloud integration.

Now with SQL Server 2016 there’s no doubt that SQL Server is a complete enterprise-level data platform that’s just keeps getting deeper. Some of the major enhancements that we’ll cover in the SQL Server 2016 Essential Guide series includes:

  • Security – With growing cloud integration and a number of well publicized security exposures from companies like Home Depot and Target it’s no surprise that security has taken a forefront in the new SQL Server 2016 release. New security features like Always Encrypted and Row-level Security extend SQL Server’s lead as the most secure enterprise database.

  • Performance – Microsoft introduced several in-memory technologies like the Columnstore Index and the In-Memory OLTP engine into earlier releases of SQL Server. With the SQL Server 2016 release Microsoft has continued to enhance these in-memory technologies making them more compatible with traditional disk based queries.

  • Big Data and Analytics – Big data and new forms of analytics are also two of the hottest database trends. SQL Server 2016 adds Polybase support and its big data bridge into the main SQL Server family. Plus, new R integration boosts SQL Server’s data analysis capabilities.

  • Mobility – Without a doubt mobility and BYOD are two of the biggest trends in IT today. SQL Server 2016 includes a new mobile report capability that’s built-in to Reporting Services.

These are just some of the highlights of what we’ll dive into with the new release. In addition to regular coverage in this column be sure to check out the upcoming SQL Server 2016 New Features eLearning course.