Looking Back at 2021

Today is my last day of work for 2021. I’m off to a family vacation for the rest of the week to enjoy time together and celebrate the New Year. I wanted to take a look back at the year before I leave and give you a few thoughts on various data-related topics.

The big news for those Microsoft data platform people is that SQL Server 2022 is coming. No idea when, and without public CTPs, I think it might be a 2022 H2 release, but Microsoft committed to the naming. There have been a number of talks, at Ignite, the PASS Data Community Summit, and the SQL Server and Azure SQL Conference. I had the chance to talk with Bob Ward and Pedro Lopes, and they are excited and proud of the upcoming release.

I don’t think it’s a massive change, but there are a few nice things, and I look forward to the continued query processor improvements. It’s also nice to have a new version coming out after a few years. I’m guessing there are plenty of people working with 2016 or prior versions that might look to upgrade in the next couple of years.

The other area that occupies a bunch of my time is the event scene. I am have spent a lot of my time in the last decade going to events and helping promote them. SQL Saturday has been an incredible boon to bringing together data professionals at local events, and I look forward to that continuing. 2020 and 2021 were hard years, with relatively few events, either virtual or physical. Concerns over people getting together have kept many organizers and venues from running anything.

Many of us are vaccinated and there are areas trying to return to some sense of normalcy. I don’t know where the future will go, but I was lucky enough to go to a few events this year. Dataminds Connect in Belgium, SQL Saturday Orlando 2021, and the SQL Server and Azure SQL Conference were highlights for me. Different rules and restrictions at each, and compliance with those was easy for me. I loved getting to see people.

There were few virtual events, and many of the events that did take place saw big declines from the attendance and engagement in 2020. While some user groups and smaller events have thrived, many have not. I hope that we continue to see some virtual events in the future, but I am looking forward to more physical interactions in 2022.

One interesting data item from 2021 was the change in how healthcare has gone virtual. I’ve seen more visits taking place, and more devices coming that help smaller facilities run diagnostics for remote doctors. I’ve seen some home devices as well, and I love the growth in accessibility, and I worry about the security of data and privacy. The push to do reduce contact with others has led to some innovation for sure.

Many of us have worked with data for a long time, and we know that companies have usually embraced the collection and analysis of data related to their businesses. Knowing that, I’ve been surprised how often I find companies struggling with supply chain issues and not knowing the status of their orders. Perhaps they do and prefer not to let consumers know, but in the past I’ve often seen estimates of when something will arrive. Even Amazon has had a lot of “out of stock and no idea” posts on products. I find it interesting that companies either don’t have the data or won’t disclose it. Either way, a lack of transparency wasn’t the data change I expected in 2021.

I haven’t dabbled in Bitcoin or cryptocurrency at all, and I’m not sure what to think of Blockchain. It’s an interesting mathematical idea, but not sure I like it as a practical item. It’s coming in SQL Server 2022, and it’s also becoming more mainstream. The thing that made me think we should understand this better was the renaming of the Staples Center to the Crypto.com arena. No matter what you think of the tech, spending the money on advertising means there is plenty of revenue and profit in this area. From a data perspective, worth knowing something about how this works.

For most of 2021, it felt like an extended 2020. Vaccination opened some things up, but the world didn’t return to normal. Many companies continued to avoid forcing people back into offices, but not all. I have some friends back in the office every day and even more that are required to go every week. I don’t know where 2022 will bring us, but I hope it’s a flexible blend of in-person and remote work. It might not work for everyone, but for many of us working with data, we can certainly get a lot done remotely. We proved that in 2020 and again in 2021.

This was a good year for me, and I hope you can say the same thing. I’m off for the rest of the year, but I wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to seeing more of you in 2022.

Steve Jones

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About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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