Yesterday the 2018 Ignite conference kicked off with a number of announcements from Microsoft. You can re-watch some talks and the keynote, catching up on Windows, CosmosDB, and more. The big announcement concerning most of us is about the next version of SQL Server. This has been called v.Next in NDA briefings, as we’ve learned of different pieces of work, but now there’s a name: SQL Server 2019.
The preview version, CTP 2.0, was released yesterday for public download. This is the first public release of the next version, and actually the first version I’ll be installing. To date I haven’t had time to even try to work with any previews. The keynote covers a bit of the product, but to see What’s New, check out Books Online. There are some database engine changes, such as UTF-8 support, better index rebuilds, improvements in Always Encrypted, Java programmability extensions and more. Big Data Clusters come as well, with Spark and better HDFS support. I don’t know much about it, but lot of friends that work in analytics are excited about Spark support.
There are also some enhancements for SQL Server on Linux, which start to bring the two platforms closer together. Replication has been added, as well as DTC support, which have both been blockers for some users. AG support in containers is really interesting, though I’m not positive that this is that helpful. Machine learning services and OpenLDAP support are worthwhile additions as well.
I am most excited about the secure enclaves for Always Encrypted. These will finally allow AE to be a more useful technology, and I’ll be updating my security session with this information. Maybe we’ll actually start to see AE deployed in more situations where high security is required as most of the operations we’ve needed, such as LIKE and range evaluations, haven’t been possible. I’m excited about the possibility of better security, though as most of us know, the weakest links are still the human and the client computer.
There are plenty more enhancements, including more database scoped configuration items, better query processing for some opertions, more synchronous AG replicas, and maybe better, auto redirection of AG clients without a listener. There aren’t any new enhancements to the data classification options, though I’m hoping that will change before RTM. One last note, SQL Operations Studio has been renamed to Azure Data Studio. I’m not a big fan of naming changes, and I don’t like either of these, but I am curious if any you think this is the way forward for our toolset.
All in all, this looks like a nice evolution for SQL Server, but not a major release with lots of new features. Perhaps my BI colleagues that use Spark or Java programers will disagree, but I don’t see anything that would be worth upgrading for the SQLServerCentral servers. Even in most of my jobs, other than getting the Always Encrypted enhancements, I don’t know many of these features would provide enough of an ROI. If you feel differently, let me know. There is some other coverage at Brent Ozar, MSSQLTips, and SQL Performance.
One last item, if you’re looking to get started with any of the new Microsoft technologies, there are a few options. Certainly we will cover some items here, but we tend to focus on the data platform. Microsoft has announced Microsoft Learn, with content that covers Azure, PowerApps, and more. This might be a good resource for your learning plan this year. Pick a lunch or two a week, a weekend morning, or some other time and try to slowly improve your skills.