Technology Flows Downstream

A few years ago, I was listening a session on Azure SQL Data Warehouse at an event. At the time, one of the features I found fascinating was the separation of the storage from the compute portions of the service. We could load a lot of data in the system and pay for the storage, but we could spin up and down compute nodes to essentially scale out query processing to match our workloads. Azure Data Lake has something similar, and I was excited.

I wasn’t excited about ASDW or ASDL because I don’t really use those platforms in my work, and I don’t have customers to talk to about those. I think they are useful, just not for me. I was, however, impressed with the technology, hoping that it would be coming in the next few years to SQL Server in the box and Azure SQL Database.

It’s coming in SQL Server 2019, or at least, the start of it. We will get compute nodes, managed by Kubernetes, that will query other storage nodes that scale out I/O access. We also get this with Azure SQL Database in the Hyperscale edition, where there will be query servers and cache servers, designed to scale to infinite, or at least multi-petabyte, ranges

I wasn’t always sure that the investments in Azure would pay off for the database side of things. It felt like Azure Stack was a natural place to help us manage and deploy SQL databases, and that the contained database work started in 2012 would get pushed by the needs of the Azure cloud, evolving and growing in future versions. We haven’t seen those pieces of technology grow, but I do think technology in other parts of the data platform has flowed to the “regular” OLTP database space.

The separation of compute and storage really begins with the SQL Server 2019 era release, and I suspect that’s just the first step of how our SQL Server database systems will evolve in the future.

Steve Jones

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