The Ever Expanding Data Platform

This past week was the 2018 Ignite conference from Microsoft, where we had a number of announcements about the data platform. You can rewatch some of the sessions from the event, and I might recommend the keynotes to see some of the demos and positioning of the data platform. That’s the direction that Microsoft is moving their database products, as a complete platform that not only includes SQL Server, but CosmosDB, Managed Instances, Data Lakes, and  more.

If you’re a SQL Server DBA, it’s time to stop thinking yourself as a SQL Server DBA or developer. Instead, you need to be a data professional, especially on the Microsoft stack. While you might concentrate on SQL Server and live in SSMS, you ought to be aware of the growing options for working on the Microsoft stack. Azure Data Studio, which Grant wrote about this week, ought to be a tool you investigate. You also ought to be looking at the latest version of SSMS, which had it’s v18 move into a public preview this week. With these tools being free, companies ought to be moving away from the older versions that shipped with SQL Server 2014 and earlier. Instead you should at least be on a v17 version of SSMS. Talk to your IT group and give it a try today. It works fine with all your SQL Server versions, from 2005 through 2017.

Microsoft is certainly hoping you’ll run more workloads in Azure, and that’s where the data platform is growing. CosmosDB, which I think has a lot of promise for various types problem domains, or even as a companion to SQL Server for certain types of data. There is an increase in their SLA to 5 9s, which is both impressive and ambitious. I know very few on-premises instances that get by with 5 9s across multiple years, leaving aside the ability to get 10ms write performance in the SLA. The is also multi master replication and support for the Cassandra API. While I haven’t done much with CosmosDB, it is on my radar to experiment with as a data store option.

Managed Instances will be generally available on Oct 1, just a couple days away. While I wasn’t sure that this product would catch on, I’m not surprised that some companies would like to get away from managing most of the stuff around the database and stick with the data. To me, this, more than anything else, can mean that DBAs at larger companies need to be managing data, security, and more, without worrying too much about the basics of backups and HA. Even threat detection, something few of us are good at, is handled by Azure. The restore demo in the keynote is truly impressive. I’m not sure many of us would want to, or be able to, architect those speeds. At least not as easy as provisioning an Azure Managed Instance.

There are lots of other announcements, which you can read. The one really interesting thing for me was the Data Box announcement. I’ve had more than a few people be concerned about the initial loads of data into an Azure database or data lake. I’ve had that concern, and actually been part of a company that FedEx shipped a rack of disks as part of a SAN to a DR site because of bandwidth constraints. The Data Box is a device that you can order and fill, shipping this back to Azure for loading. It comes in 40TB, 100TB, abd 1PB sizes. That is truly stunning to me. Drop ship 1PB if you have the need. You can even see a picture of it from Argenis Fernandez for some idea of size.

It’s an exciting time to be a data professional, and Microsoft’s data platform continues to grow. I don’t know that any of us will know more than a tiny bit about most of the platform, but I certainly plan on increasing my knowledge in a few areas to become better aware of how they work and what they are capable of. I might not be able to use them well, but I can at least have enough knowledge to have a conversation about the technology and have an idea of whether it might solve a problem that I run into at work.

Steve Jones

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Editor, SQLServerCentral
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