The End of 2017

This is it. Today ends 2017 for most of us at work and when we come back on Tuesday, it will be a new year. It’s kind of amazing to think another year has gone by, though it’s been a long year for me. I can barely remember last New Years, though I know I was skiing this time last year with my daughter. Maybe I’ll get the chance to do that again this weekend.

This has been a busy year, full of SQL Server and database changes. We got a new version of SQL Server, and a new platform with the release of SQL Server on Linux. This has been in the works for quite some time, and I’m glad it’s come out. I keep seeing more people interested in working on the Linux platform, so I expect this will be more popular than I might have guessed. We also got the addition of Python as a languge inside SQL Server, which is cool. I like it better than R, and I expect we’ll see more and more Python code inside the platform over time. Add to that the addition of graph capabilities, and SQL Server is becoming a more well rounded platform.

As is the case most years, security issues continue to haunt us. More data breaches, including a wide reaching set of lost data with the Equifax issues. I had hoped this would stir the US to move towards something like GDPR, but so far nothing has been done. We’ll see how GDPR affects things, though I see plenty of Redgate customers asking for features and support that will ensure they are compliant. We’re hard at work, as are many other vendors. I hope you are as well. This reminds me of the year 2000 efforts, though at a smaller scale. Now we don’t have an unknown issue as far as technology goes, but we might still have business problems if our organizations violate GDPR. I expect late 2018 and 2019 to be boom years for European solicitors.

What seemed like a set of niche technologies, AI, ML, and bots, seem to be growing more and more important all the time. I’m somewhat amazed at how often I see talks on these topics, from both consultants and vendors, who are building systems. As I’ve looked into these areas, I’m surprised at how widespread the use of machines is already, doing work that I thought humans were doing. What’s more, the demand for data has grown tremendously in order to feed and train the systems that people are building. FWIW, supplying training data has become a big business, and I’m sure we’ll start to see yet more data about us being sold and compromised as companies seek to build more helpful systems. Helpful to their business, perhaps not to us as individuals.

In any case, I see more and more posts and experimentation from data professionals that are using the R language, Power BI, and other tools to better analyze data. While writing reports and creating queries has been something many of us do, I think some of our colleagues have found that producing more complex data visualizations is a way of adding more value to the skills they bring to an employer. With lots of deeper analysis in the news, I think that the management in many companies appreciates this and may expect it from future employees. Something to keep in mind.

There has been plenty of technological change, but overall the year seems to have focused on many soft skill matters. With the awareness and outrage over various behaviors by those in power, I wonder if we will start to see changes in our industry. I’ve been proud of the Women in Technology efforts from PASS and others across the last few years, and I hope we continue to grow and evolve to treat each other as the capable professionals we are. I also am glad to see more and more tech companies and events embracing a more professional, less bro-grammar culture.

It’s been a long year, and an interesting one as DevOps continues to dominate the world of software development. I hope to see that continue, especially as my employer has devoted a lot of work to help include databases any DevOps culture. However, as I heard recently at SQL in the City, DevOps isn’t an excuse to ship more crappy software to customers. That include databases, so as you move forward, perhaps at a quick pace, don’t forget to evolve your database in line with well known and well documented database design principles.

2017 has been a good year, and I look forward to 2018. Happy New Year, have a safe holiday, and I’ll see you in 2018.

Steve Jones

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