The long wait is now over, SQL 2012 has finally been released! No more Code Name Denali. No more CTP 0. The next question, though, is what do we do with it? I am sure just about all CTOs, CIOs, IT managers and directors have already started to ask why they should upgrade, migrate, develop on, or purchase SQL 2012. To me there are two answers to that question; the first is based around the business decisions and what makes this platform more viable than any existing platform. The second is the inner geek in all of us screaming like a two-year-old, “Let me have the new shiny toy!” and the inherent bragging rights that come with being the first to have it.
With that said, I am going to put a little more detail to both of these answers. First let’s tackle the business side of this question. SQL 2012 has brought new features to the forefront such as Power View, Enhanced Data Quality, AlwaysOn and Private Cloud. With Power View, users can now self-author reports that are presentation-ready. With the ability to export those reports to PowerPoint and have them interactive within a PowerPoint presentation, this should be a no-brainer. The Data Quality/Management has a pretty extensive upgrade, first with the addition of Data Quality Services, and second with a new Excel-based user interface. Yes, the web version still exists, but I think Data stewards will find the Excel version much easier to use.
AlwaysOn is a personal favorite of mine and one that can have an immediate impact on any IT organization’s bottom line. AlwaysOn is the newer, much improved version of Log Shipping and Clustering, and it now removes the need for active passive clusters. For example, let’s say for high availability reasons you have an Active/Passive cluster, you log ship to a third server for reporting, and then have to configure your reporting to point to another server. With AlwaysOn, you can now have an active secondary. Now your passive node is active, and within the management tool you can redirect read-only traffic. This simple upgrade eliminates the need to have the third server, making for a cheaper and greener solution.
The Private Cloud is based upon bringing the flexibility of Cloud operations within your organization. It leverages Virtualization using Microsoft’s Virtual Machine Manager and flexibility using the Operation Manager. All you need to do is create base virtual images (I like to call these gold images), then monitor the system with Operation Manager. When you need more servers in the farm, you can have them brought up automatically. Another great feature within this solution is the ability to setup Charge Back reporting. IT can finally show the database usage and charge back internal business units for their usage, rather than be perceived as a giant cost center to the organization.
Now, let’s talk about the new “Geek Features” (as I like to call them). SSIS has undergone a major overhaul with new features such as Data Quality Cleansing, New GUI, Shared Connection Manager, Parameters and new deployment model (I could go on much longer but will save that for another post). Windows functions previously featured in Oracle are now in SQL as well. And, if you want to stop writing 500 lines of code of sub-selects, go out and learn all you can about them. Going back to SSIS for a minute, download SQL 2012 and open up the new Data Tools, formerly known as BIDS. I have no doubt you will be impressed right from the start.
For the pure BI guys and gals out there, the new Tabular model in SSAS will make your mouths water with endless ideas of how it can be used while also making your end-users happier with increased response time. Tabular models are not the be-all, end-all of SSAS solutions. However, they’re a dream come true for developers looking to appease users looking for quick access to 1-3 GB datasets (without waiting for inclusion in a cube). Furthermore, since Tabular is based off of DAX, you should know that DAX now has the SET functions in it that have always been in MDX.
Don’t wait any longer. Go out and download SQL 2012 now! Whether you’re management or technical, there are many reasons you should start planning your upgrades now!