Microsoft has dramatically changed the support policy for SQL Server. In the past, the policy was essentially "wait for a service pack unless you have a problem". Now they want developers to proactively Cumulative Updates.
SQL Server 2016 is removing a lot of the limitations on memory-optimized tables including the inability to work with the large documents favored by NoSQL style designs.
Microsoft’s executive vice president of the cloud and enterprise group Scott Guthrie announced SQL Server is coming to Linux, thus once more confirming Microsoft’s new course on open source software. SQL Server will be generally available on Linux sometime mid 2017, with a private preview being available now.
SQL Server is add support for the statistical programming language R.
SQL Server 2016 offers a new tool for performance tuning called Query Store. This holds metrics that let you quickly see when an execution plan change has negatively impacted the database.
A database query times out and you don’t know why. The estimated query plan is revealing the problem, so you remove the timeout entirely. An hour later it is still running and you are no closer to getting the actual execution plan. If only there was a way to find out what is actually happening inside the server. With Live Query Statistics in SQL Server 2016 you can now answer that question.
Data masking is a necessary, but error prone process. You only need to forget the mask one time to leak sensitive data. SQL Server 2016 attempts to address this with a feature called Dynamic Data Masking.
A common criticism for SQL Server’s security model is that it only understands tables and columns. If you want to apply security rules on a row-by-row basis, you have to simulate it using stored procedures or table value functions, and then find a way to make sure there is no way to bypass them. With SQL Server 2016, that is no longer a problem.
SQL Server 2016 seeks to make encryption easier via its new Always Encrypted feature. This feature offers a way to ensure that the database never sees unencrypted values without the need to rewrite the application.
SQL Server 2016’s new Temporal Table feature makes it easy to work with data that needs to be versioned.
SQL Server 2016’s new stretch database feature promises to offer local server performance for hot data and cloud storage for old data without any change to the application.
In SQL Server 2014 we saw the introduction of Natively Compiled Stored Procedures. In 2016 we’ll be able to do the same for Scalar User Defined Functions.
Memory Optimized Tables promise significant performance gains, but tend to be difficult to work with. SQL Server 2016 reduces much of the pain by offering ALTER TABLE support.
Clustered Columnstore Indexes were one of the two headline features for SQL Server 2014. Designed for tables with over 10 million rows, they allow for good performance on analytical queries without the need to explicitly specify indexes. With SQL Server 2016, they gain the ability to support secondary indexes.
Non-clustered Columnstore Indexes are also getting some enhancements in SQL Server 2016. The most notable of these enhancements is the ability to be updated.