We asked several of our SQL Server Pro contributors and experts for their SQL Server community and market predictions for 2014. Denny Cherry, Tim Ford, Mark Kromer, Brent Ozar, and Jen Underwood have some informed ideas on how 2014 will unfold for SQL Server professionals.
Please let us know your SQL Server predictions for 2014 by submitting your comments at the bottom of the page.
Key themes you'll see mentioned in the following 2014 predictions include:
- cloud security
- evolution of business intelligence
- growth of virtualization
- expanded globalization of the SQL Server community
- need for big data techniques and technologies
- upgrading to SQL Server 2014
In 2014, cloud vendors still won't have security answers to satisfy people who currently use databases on-premise. The self-tuning database still won't exist, and we'll still write code bad enough to slow down any server. Despite plummeting memory prices, many people will still be surprised at the thought of 64GB minimums for database servers. Most SANs still won't have solid state drives, so database professionals will struggle with slow performance knowing they could run faster on a $1,000 laptop. Databases will still go for weeks or months without a DBCC, and people will act surprised when they lose data.
Thankfully, in 2014, the community will still be right there for all these people. We'll answer their questions on SQLServerCentral.com and DBA.StackExchange.com. We'll write blog posts and articles about how to improve performance and reliability. We'll do free presentations at SQLSaturdays and local user groups where anyone can improve their education for free.
Wow! This past year has been amazing for data and analytics professionals everywhere. We are seeing unprecedented, rapid releases from software vendors and many new players showing up on the radar. Data discovery and self-service business intelligence is mainstream. Big data adoption has accelerated. Predictive analytics and cloud solutions are finally starting to gain market momentum. Where will 2014 take us?
The business intelligence game really has changed and it will continue to evolve in 2014. In business school strategy courses you learn about Porter's five industry forces and how they help determine an industry's weaknesses and strengths. These forces include:
- Industry competition
- Potential of new entrants
- Power of suppliers
- Power of customers
- Threat of substitute products
In our industry, we are seeing intense industry competition with many new players showing up on the radar almost weekly—at least that is how it feels. Historical suppliers such as Microsoft and SAP are fighting to save market share from Amazon, Google, niche players, open source and other new, viable threats in a cloud world where the technical barriers to entry are minimal. Customers are enjoying the plethora of easy to use, powerful analytics tools in the market today. Microsoft is striking-back pitching Excel as the one and only analytic tool that you will ever need, flexing mega-vendor muscle and betting Microsoft BI on the Excel monopoly card.
Shortage of Talent and Time
Business intelligence and analytics pros are expanding their skill sets to learn big data, data mining, and statistics to supplement data warehousing, ETL, reporting and dashboard development skills. Technical training is EVERYWHERE. Free training, paid training, YouTube, blogs, all the vendors, professional organizations, Pluralsight, MVPs, and so on. There is no shortage of training material. There is a shortage of talent and time with the incredible levels of demand for proven business intelligence and analytic professionals. For predictive analytics professionals, job growth has already exceeded 15,000 percent from 2011 and 2012. I am predicting demand for those skills will continue to grow along with high demand for big data skills.
We are seeing less traditional BI implementations. That trend will continue in 2014. I also expect to see much more emphasis on governance of self-service solutions like Power BI as these tools grow from pilots or departmental solutions today, to enterprise-wide deployments. Mobile BI hype has fizzled a bit but it is still going to be needed in 2014. Last, but not least, we will see much more Cloud BI and Hybrid BI solutions in 2014. The mega-vendors are forcing cloud on us since they make mega-money on it.
Get ready for another wild ride in 2014.
1. I think we will continue to see the growth in business intelligence and the de-mystification of "data science." More companies, organizations, and government entities will continue to increase their reliance on data mining and in doing so companies that aren't analyzing their data or using predictive analytics are going to lose advantage against their competitors.
2. Healthcare IT continues to lag behind other sectors in adoption of Microsoft SQL Server (and Oracle for that matter). Government regulation, high profit margins and software vendors that don't face as much competition as those in other sectors are all contributors to this prolonged trend. I think that you'll finally see widespread adoption for SQL 2012 in the Healthcare industry though even as SQL 2014 is released, primarily due to the lack of mainstream support of 2008 and 2008R2 coming mid-year. Most upgrades I expect to come from SQL 2005, even though that has been out of mainstream support with Microsoft since 2011.
3. Virtualization on the rise. Whether it's internal in a dedicated SQL virutal machine (VM) farm (hopefully, licensed at the host level with Enterprise Edition SQL Server) or in the cloud in Azure or AWS, I think you'll continue to see the physical footprint shrink and the virtual footprint for SQL Server grow. This also leads me to predict the slow death of physical SQL Server High Availability Clusters in favor of geo-spatial Availability groups built upon VM clusters.
4. Continued globalization of the SQL Server Community. I'm a "community" guy. I find it invigorating that SQL, unlike any other database platform, has a vibrant, energetic, and diverse user community built around it. The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) continues to expand through Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia from its origins in North America. SQLSaturday events, free events hosted by local community user groups, will continue to spread through these regions. I expect to see more growth of local PASS chapters and regional events in Latin America, Asia, and Africa with steady numbers in North America and Europe. Of course, I'll continue to bring SQL Server to places there isn't even land as well on at least one SQL Cruise in 2014.
Big Data Analytics "hybrid architectures" will become common place in the enterprise business space.
What is a "hybrid Big Data Analytics architecture?"
Here is an example: Hadoop as the data lake, storing TBs of detail data, SQL Server for aggregated views and in-memory cubes for data discovery and Big Data Analytics. And in many cases, either the Hadoop data lake or the aggregated views may be better served with an MPP database architecture that you'll find with SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse, Vertica, Greenplum, etc.
The data architect's decision of when to use Hadoop, MPP, RDBMS, NoSQL, OLAP, etc., depend on a number of factors that may include factors like data volume, IT budget, IT staff skill sets, projected data growth, etc. I will walk you through a number of these scenarios and decision trees in 2014 in my BI blog.
And why is that an emerging trend in the enterprise business space?
Because many of the technologies that enable data discovery of large, unstructured data sets grew out of open source and Internet businesses that were not as focused on security, encryption, application lifecycle and other areas of enterprise IT that are commonplace for large IT shops in corporate enterprise businesses.
IT and business decision-makers in traditional industry sectors (i.e. outside of Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc.) have indicated a very high level of interest in bringing big data techniques and technologies into their shops in 2014 to begin drawing value out of masses of unmined and unused data.
For SQL Server 2014, I'm predicting that the changes made in the product for Hekaton (also known as the In-Memory OLTP Engine) are going to drive a lot of people to upgrade their systems into SQL Server 2014 so that they can get the power of the in-memory tables. Unfortunately, I also predict that a lot of people of going to jump into converting to Hekaton with both eyes closed and they aren't going to be happy with the results because they are trying to solve the wrong problem with Hekaton. For the year 2014 and the SQL Server community, I see the community growing, and in doing so, blurring the line between work and social life, even more.