We are coming up to the end of “Launch Month” for SQL Server 2012. On March 7, Launch Day, I published the first five reasons I was excited. In honor of the local SQL Launch in Minneapolis, I thought I would add to the list. So, in no particular order here are five more reasons I am excited about SQL Server 2012 that should excite you as well:
I have not used FileStream in SQL Server 2008, but I am aware of some of the issues associated with it. However, with the introduction of FileTable, users who need to manage unstructured data such as Word documents, PDFs, and pictures can manage these files using Windows Explorer while keeping them available and synchronized in SQL Server. Beyond this ease of use improvement, you can also create Full-Indexes against the files which allow you to create queries and find data in your unstructured data.
Big Data and Hadoop Integration
Microsoft has partnered with Hortonworks to provide Big Data integration within the Windows ecosystem. I am most interested in the HiveODBC connectors that they are creating. This will allow those of us creating BI solutions to directly access Big Data and incorporate relevant content into our data warehouses and analytic solutions. Furthermore, it can be integrated into mashups using the HiveODBC add-in for Excel.
AlwaysOn is the consolidated high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) solution for SQL Server 2012. This solution simplifies the management and configuration for these key database management features. I am excited to see the improved usage of the secondary instances. In many cases, you will be able to use the secondary instances as read-only snapshots. This will allow you to have the benefit of HA while pointing read-intensive solutions to regional DR targets. The general effect is better reporting performance and better utilization of hardware investments.
Expanded Set of DAX Functions
I have been working in PowerPivot 2008 for a while and this is a much needed improvement. As an MDX developer, I was frustrated with some of the limitations I ran into working with sets of data in PowerPivot. In the next version, DAX has been expanded to include many of the functions that I use regularly in BI including RANK, TOPN, DISTINCTCOUNT, and SWITCH. You will be able to use these new DAX functions in the new Tabular Model in SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services as well.
SQL Server Data Tools
Finally, we have to talk about SQL Server Data Tools. With the latest version of SQL Server, Microsoft has completely redone or blown away BIDS in favor of SQL Server Data Tools. This is a combination the Visual Studio Database toolset and Business Intelligence Development Studio functionalities. Furthermore, these tools are available as a free download and will keep their versioning in sync with Visual Studio.
I hope that you are as excited about these new features or improvements as I am. If you would like to know more feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to help you evaluate how SQL Server 2012 can improve your database experience as well.