There’s been a lot of press and media about Microsoft on the AI and machine learning work they’re heavily investing in. From Cognitive Services to Cortana to Bots, Microsoft is really investing in developers and applications that will perform detailed analysis and make more complex decisions in any environment. Event SQL Server has gotten Python added to R Services and will change the way we run queries for analysis and reporting.
The effect this will have on data professionals is not just limited to SQL Server’s machine learning capabilities. This week I saw a couple announcements from Microsoft on changes in SQL Server. Automatic plan correction is coming in SQL Server 2017 and automatic index management is in SQL Azure. I expect the latter to make an appearance in the on-premises product at some point, perhaps 2018 or 2019, but I would certainly count on this coming to your local installations at some point.
Currently plan correction still requires a DBA to decide which plans need correcting, but once that the decisions are made, SQL Server can handle things. However, with automatic plan correction, we can allow SQL Server to force the last good plan when it detects an regression. This isn’t a huge change, but it can dramatically reduce some of the random calls that DBAs get when plans regress and performance tanks. Over time, we might find that many of those nuisance calls go away. I hope that most of you have other work that you can do instead of tracking down plan regressions, and you certainly should have more.
There are other changes, such as threat detection, that I expect will allow a single person, perhaps the accidental DBA or developer, to manage a lot of the trivial, but important, administrative items for a SQL Server instance. This means that we need less data professionals that focus on the infrastructure side of databases. There will be more and more ways that SQL Server improves to handle the mundane tasks, amplifying the power of a single human, reducing the management burden, and using less people to manage more and more.
I expect additional capabilities in SQL Server to simplify most tasks over time, and I’m hoping there’s one in particular that gets built soon. I’d like to see automatic backups (full and log) as a part of the database creation process. Some helpful defaults, perhaps at the instance level, that are applied to ensure that all databases are being backed up and we never see the “transaction log full” error unless we run out of disk space. It will come, as we move to the quick, button click, automatic setting method of managing all the cattle in our infrastructure. At least, I’m planning on this happening.