Updates About SQL Server 2016 on Linux

It is an exciting news which already every one knew is Microsoft is bringing SQL Server on Linux—another towards making SQL Server industry-leading data management and business analytics platform, for any data, to run any application, anywhere. SQL Server support for linux will be built on SQL Server 2016, so SQL Server on Linux gives the users the power to build and deploy intelligent applications on a single data management and business analytics platform. The advantage of SQL Server’s low total cost of ownership, supporting existing tools and skills and new innovations battle-tested in the cloud, will make the SQL Server more interesting. Microsoft trying to make it easier for us to work with data of any type, size, and speed using the tools, languages, and frameworks we want to use in a trusted cloud, hybrid, or on-premises environment. It’s another step to make SQL Server simpler and more accessible. If you want to have a quick look on how SQL Server works on linux, then see the video. However, still there are many outstanding questions from community regarding which SQL Server features will not be supported when released, which features that are planned to be supported , licensing information, performance difference of running on Server 2016 on windows vs Linux, remote management support with PowerShell, availability of pre-built test VMs to download, Azure (in)compatibility, which flavors of UNIX/Linux will be supported, and comparison/contrast with the other popular database products normally used on Linux. Also, it would be interesting to know how the High Availability, Replication, Always On features work with SQL Server on linux.

Recent updates from Microsoft community via blog posts suggest that SQL Server on linux is already developer and is under testing and now also the Microsoft product support team is getting involved with the product and looks like few support team members got access to the setup media and were able to successfully installed SQL Server on linux without any issues and after using it a bit and reading about linux they feel that SQL Server on Linux is an attainable goal. As of now, the testing is going smooth without much issues, which actually is not good because without hitting any issues during initial internal testing, the product will not improve much. If many issues are identified by users or customers, that will bring a bad impression about the product, which in every case Microsoft wants to avoid. Microsoft support team is invaluable in helping improving the product because they have enormous experience is troubleshooting many issues over a period of time and they can try test simulating different ongoing issues which are encountered on Windows to linux and see the behavior and in the process of troubleshooting the problems, they will need to use different tools and the testing will bring support for those tools as well.

So far from the preview videos and blog posts we can see that we can use SQL Server on linux through SQLCMD command that we install on linux environment, so we are to reply on commands and no GUI support yet, which many SQL Server DBAs may not like, as we are very much used to GUI. However, after the release, with growing requests from DBAs and community, we may get a GUI tool as well. Just like any other product, it is expected to have many issues initially, but thing will improve with time. When SQL Server was initially developer, it was not great and was not even in competition with Oracle, MySQL, DB2, etc, but in 15 years, SQL Server was able to beat the competition with DB2, MySQL, Sybase and few other RDBMS products and giving a tough competition to Oracle as well. Also, with new cloud competition heating up, support for SQL Server in linux has become inevitable for Microsoft to be in completion with other RDBMS products.

Hope this was helpful.

This is applicable for below versions of SQL Server

SQL Server 2016

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Benefits at Glance of Using New SQL Server 2016

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Microsoft has released most awaited RTM version of SQL Server 2016 on June 1 2016. There was lot of buzz around with the release of new SQL Server 2016 and has been already downloaded by many community DBAs and developers to start testing or learning using the new features. Just like any other SQL Server version, even in new SQL Server 2016, there has been lot of new features introduced in areas like security, performance, scalability, stability, etc. Also there is support for SQL Server on linux in pipeline, which makes it much more interesting and to enter new companies which did not use windows operating system. As a DBA or developer it is very important to gets handon new features and suggest to the management how it will benefit the clients or customers or their own business with the new features. Always, test in a test environment thoroughly before deciding to move to production. Also, as like any new version, it is expected to have lot of bugs too, so it is up to you to decide whether to wait till a service pack is released or just go ahead and install it right away now. My preference is to start testing on test environment and see how application reacts to it, and if the new features are beneficial and performance has improved with the applicaion, then I prefer to go ahead with the new SQL Server 2016 on production environment.

Following are some of the important benefits of new SQL Server 2016 which we might want to keep on top of our head.
– Microosft claims Enhanced in-memory performance which provides up to 30x faster transactions, and more than 100x faster queries than disk based relational databases and real-time operational analytics.
– New security feature Always Encrypted which helps in protecting our data at rest and in motion, on-premises and in the cloud, with master keys sitting with the application, without requiring any changes to the application.
– Built-in advanced analytics– provide the scalability and performance benefits of building and running advanced analytics algorithms directly in the core SQL Server transactional database.
– Business insights through rich visualizations on mobile devices with native apps for Windows, iOS and Android
Simplify management of relational and non-relational data with ability to query both through standard T-SQL using PolyBase technology

– New features like Stretch Database technology keeps more of our historical/cold data at our fingertips by transparently stretching your warm and cold OLTP data to Microsoft Azure in a secure manner without application changes.
– Faster hybrid backups, high availability and disaster recovery scenarios to backup and restore our on-premises databases to Microsoft Azure and place your SQL Server AlwaysOn secondaries in Azure.
– Closer integration with Azure SQL Database which helps more customers comfortable to migrated to cloud with the new security features.

Hope this was helpful.

This is applicable for below versions of SQL Server

SQL Server 2016

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SQLServerF1 Team
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New Details regarding SQL Server on Linux and SQL Server 2016 Released on June 1st

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Microsoft has officially released SQL Server 2016 on June 1st 2016. We can download an evaluation edition from here. This trial edition expires after 180 days, after which we will need to upgrade it to a licensed edition or download free express edition if the features used are minimal. Microsoft has introduced many new features with SQL Server 2016 in different areas. Some of the popular features include, Stretch database, Always Encrypt, Data Masking, also promises of significant improvement in the performance, much closer integration with SQL Azure, temporal tables, query store, Row level security, changes to upgrade advisor, etc. Initially Microsoft has released release candidate versions RC0, RC1, RC2 and RC3, which was downloaded and tested by many users in the DBA and Developer community and by some organizations and enough feedback was provided to improve the product. There were many bugs identified with the initial RC versions on various features, which were subsequently fixed in later RC versions.

Now SQL Server 2016 official RTM version has been launch on June 1st 2016. Once you install the new SQL Server 2016 RTM version, then you will see the build number as 13.0.1601.5. Some insights from Microsoft release documentation are “SQL Server 2016 is here! It is the biggest leap forward in Microsoft’s data platform history with faster transactions and queries, deeper insights on any device, advanced analytics, new security technology, and new hybrid cloud scenarios. SQL Server 2016 delivers breakthrough mission-critical capabilities with in-memory performance and operational analytics built-in. Comprehensive security features like new Always Encrypted technology helps protect your data at rest and in motion, and a world class high availability and disaster recovery solution adds new enhancements to AlwaysOn technology.You can also gain the benefits of hyper-scale cloud with new hybrid scenarios enabled by new Stretch Database technology that lets you dynamically stretch your warm and cold transactional data to Microsoft Azure in a secured way so your data is always at hand for queries, no matter the size. In addition, SQL Server 2016 delivers a complete database platform for hybrid cloud, enabling you to easily build, deploy and manage solutions that span on-premises and cloud.”

Another exciting news from Microsoft team is the announcement of further details regarding SQL Server support on Linux Operating System. So far SQL Server was supported only on Windows environment, but not there is lot of work in progress to get SQL Server work on linux environment too, just like it works on a Windows environment. SQL Server version which works on linux has not yet been released with SQL Server 2016, instead it may be released as a sub version later or as a new SQL Server version, but looks mostly it will be a sub version of SQL Server 2016 R2 or as part of a service pack. If you want to get hands on with SQL Server 2017 linux version, then at this point all we can do is sign up for Microsoft SQL Server on Linux and wait for further updates. You can register here for Microsoft SQL Server on Linux preview. Also, there has been a video released with small demos on installing and running SQL Server on linux environment. You can watch the video here. Important thing to note is that only database engine is so far been created and tested, but other services like Integration services, Reporting services, Analysis Services are still going to take some time to get on to the linux environment.

Hope this was helpful.

This is applicable for below versions of SQL Server

SQL Server 2016

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SQLServerF1 Team
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SQL Server 2014 Developer Edition is Free From Now

As a DBA or Developers it is important to have a SQL Server instance to be able to install and use it to understand the working and usage for the applications. So far, DBAs mostly rely on the free Evaluation edition of SQL Server provided by the Microsoft team. This Evaluation edition expires after 180 days, after which we need to purchase a license and upgrade the Evaluation edition to licensed edition depending on our requirement. Microsoft offers different editions for different purposes, like Enterprise edition for important and critical production applications, Standard edition for less critical applications to reduce the cost of the licensing, Developer edition specifically for developers for development and unit testing the applications before moving to production environment. Previously, most developers preferred buying developer edition as the cost is less and is is specifically released for the purpose and it consists of all features available in enterprise edition and also it could be easily upgraded to enterprise edition if required.

Starting with SQL Server 2014, Microsoft has made a decision to make the SQL Server developer edition free of cost for the developers through Visual Studio Dev Essentials members. Once you login as Visual Studio Dev Essentials members, you will be able to download the SQL Server Developer edition and use it for free of cost. This decision was taken inorder for developers to leverage the capabilities that SQL Server 2014 and higher has to offer for their applications and also this is considered as another step for making SQL Server more accessible to the users which helps in spreading the SQL Server in more companies. However, it is important to keep in mind that SQL Server Developer Edition is still specifically for development and testing purposes only, and not to be used in production environments or not to be used with any production data.

Few important things to keep in mind are below.
– This only includes SQL Server Developer Edition and does not include Operating System license or license for any other products.
– SQL Server 2016 developer edition is also will be made available free under same program and this will mostly be continued with the future releases of SQL Server.

In case you are not part of Visual Studio Dev Essentials members, then you may either buy SQL Server developer edition or can try other options available in the market like SQL Server Evaluation edition. If the application is small and not so critical, you may even choose trying SQL Server Express edition. Hope you will get your free developer edition and explore the new features available like InMemory OLTP and other features.

Hope this was helpful.

This is applicable for below versions of SQL Server

SQL Server 2014
SQL Server 2016

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SQLServerF1 Team
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SQL Server Cumulative Updates are More Stable to Install

Microsoft releases various service packs, cumulative updates, hotfixes for SQL Server to fix any bugs or known issues. Each of these serves different purposes. For example hotfixes address specific bug or issue and released when a customer opens a case with Microsoft and issue identified as bug, then hoxfix will be released to rectify the specific issue. So, DBAs are required to only apply the hotfix if they are facing that issue. Cumulative updates contain more number of fixes which include multiple hotfixes and additional bug fixes raised by customers. Service Packs are more higher level and contain all service packs, cumulative updates released so for for that version of SQL Server.

With each release of SQL Server version, Microsoft has been making various improvements to the product and the process based on the feedback received from the customers. For example, since SQL Server 2008, Microsoft has allowed possibility of uninstalling service packs, thus providing a better and easier way of rollback in case something goes wrong after applying the patch. Now in year 2016, Microsoft has come up with approach of recommending to install latest available service pack or cumulative update and stated that both of these will be stable as the level of testing done will be same. Previously, in DBA community, there has been assumption that service packs are more stable compared to cumulative updates, as service packs contain more fixes and tested thoroughly and thought that CUs are not tested as thoroughly as SPs.

Now with the article, Microsoft has made it clear that even service packs going forward from year 2016 are stable and recommends to install them as soon as they are available, similar to how DBAs react to release of service packs. This is due to change in the way the service packs and cumulative updates are created and tested. Microsoft has made effort to update the KB articles to reflect the same. Previously, the KB articles used to have message that “This cumulative package is intended to correct only the problems that are described in this article. Apply it only to systems that are experiencing these specific problems.”, which made many customer back down from applying the cumulative updates, but now they are updating the message with “we now recommend ongoing, proactive installation of CU’s as they become available.”

This change was welcomed by the DBA community where it makes it easier to convince the management to go ahead with applying the latest updates available from Microsoft whether it is a service pack or a cumulative update. Hope, with coming years there will be many more changes which not only improves the product, but also improves the processes.

Hope this was helpful.

This is applicable for below versions of SQL Server

SQL Server 2005
SQL Server 2008 R2
SQL Server 2012
SQL Server 2014
SQL Server 2016

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SQLServerF1 Team
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SQL Server 2016 Can Be Installed on Linux

As a SQL Server DBA, we never would have expected that Microsoft will someday support installing and running SQL Server instance on a linux machine, but it has come true as a surprise, as Microsoft confirmed in their official website about the same. Refer here for more information. Since the inception of SQL Server, it was never supported or possible to install SQL Server on a linux Operating System. Although, some baby steps on this was started, when SQL Server was supported to run on Windows Core. Since many years Microsoft had a firm stand on not supporting its applications on different Operating System platforms, but with changing world, Microsoft had to change its view as well. There has been mixed response from the SQL Server community regarding this move.

One of the main reasons sighted by Microsoft regarding this move was taking into consideration clients who preferred to use Linux operating System, but wanted to use SQL Server. As SQL Server was not supported to run on Linux, many organizations have moved away from SQL Server as they do not want to get stuck with Microsoft suite, which benefited oracle and other open source technologies like MySQL. With this move, now SQL Server will be picked up by many organizations which are running linux or other open source applications. Although this news has been received positively across the SQL Server and other platforms community, still there are many questions about the stability and performance of SQL Server running in linux operating system. Once we have more details on this and people start installing the SQL Server on linux, we get more details about the problems that arise while installing SQL Server in linux and trouble administering the SQL Server on linux. Also, it would be interesting to see how the performance would differ, while SQL Server running on Windows and linux systems with same hardware.

This will be a benefit for the SQL Server DBAs as they will now get an opportunity or even forcefully have to learn working with linux operating system, which mostly operates through commands better. Most SQL Server DBA’s get stuck with knowing only windows operating system, which makes it difficult for them to lean other RDBMS products like Oracle or MySQL as they can run on both Windows as well as linux operating systems. Oracle/MySQL DBA’s had more feasibility to learn SQL Server, than SQL Server DBA’s leaning Oracle or MySQL, now this will change. Also, this will change the mindset of the SQL Server DBA’s to understand the importance of managing or administering SQL Server and operating system though commands, rather than GUI. There is still a long way to go, as it is expected that there are many challenges on the way for the SQL Server to work seamlessly on linux operating as it works on Windows operating System. This will bring more customer adopt SQL Server product, thus opening more DBA jobs. Also DBA’s who like challenging tasks would love this move, as it is completely new and no or very little documentation will be ever on this, which makes their job more challenging and interesting.

Stay tuned for more information.

Hope this was helpful.

This is applicable for below versions of SQL Server

SQL Server 2016

Thanks,
SQLServerF1 Team
In-Depth Blogs on SQL Server, Information about SQL Server Conferences and Events, Frequently asked questions, SQL Server Trainings

 

Comparing Installation Options Available for SQL Server on Azure VM

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In the below mentioned previous post, we have discussed about different installation options available for SQL Server on Azure VM
Different Installation Options Available for SQL Server on Azure VM
It is important to understand the differences in the three option mentioned in the above post.
– Create a SysPreppedImage of the SQL Server version of our choice on an hyper-v VM on out local environment and then Upload it to Azure.
– Create a virtual machine running Windows from the Azure portal and then install SQL Server on it.
– Provision a SQL Server virtual machine in Azure from the Azure portal.

SysPreppedImage of the SQL Server on Hyper-V VM and Upload to Azure is preferred when you want to use your own licenses for Windows Operating System and SQL Server, so that you only need to pay for Azure compute and storage costs incurred for hosting your VM with SQL Server on Azure. Since SQL Server 2008 R2, has introduced of performing a SysPrep image, and the steps are simple. In this DBAs can choose and install required SQL Server versions and patches and required Operating System versions and patches instead of depending up on the versions provided by Microsoft Azure. However this is the most time consuming task of the three methods as this involves buinding hyper-v VM and preparing SQL Server SysPrep image and then uploading the VHD files to the Azure and then use it to create the VM. This is preferred when you want to use your own licenses which you are have, to avoid using Microsoft licensing available for Windows OS and SQL Server from Microsoft on per-minute usage basis.

Create a virtual machine running Windows is preferred you want to use your own license of SQL Server, but use the license of Windows Operating System provided by Microsoft, however the licensing of the Windows OS usage, compute and storage usage of Azure VM are calculated on the per-minute basis. SO, In this case, we pay only for the per-minute for the Azure Compute, Storage, and Windows license but not for the SQL Server license. In this DBAs can choose and install required SQL Server versions and patches. This involves additional work of installing SQL Server, its patches.

Provision a SQL Server virtual machine in Azure is preferred when you do not want to use any of your own licenses, instead only want to dependent or use the Microsoft licenses, but this usage is mostly calculated on per-minute basis. In this we need to pay per-minute for a SQL Server license along with an Azure Compute, Storage, and Windows license. This allows us to install SQL Server at desired version and service pack level, thus reducing the time taken for SQL Server installation along with VM setup and these things can be done from Azure portal with simple clicks and providing the options. This is best suited for applications which are required for short time for testing and later can be shutdown, thus brings down the cost.

Hope this was helpful.

This is applicable for below versions of SQL Server

SQL Server 2008 R2
SQL Server 2012
SQL Server 2014
SQL Server 2016

Thanks,
SQLServerF1 Team
In-Depth Blogs on SQL Server, Information about SQL Server Conferences and Events, Frequently asked questions, SQL Server Trainings

 

Different Installation Options Available for SQL Server on Azure VM

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Cloud solutions has been gaining increased support and many customers moving their data on to cloud technologies or planning to move in future. Once management decides on moving the SQL Server on to Azure, there are two options either to choose Infrastructure as Service (IaaS) or SQL Azure database as service (PaaS). If the management decides to have more control on the SQL Server and decides to use the Infrastructure as service option(IaaS), then next step would be is to get the SQL Server installed and running on the Microsoft Azure VM. There are different ways in which we can get SQL Server installed and running on the Azure VM which depend on factors mainly like Licensing. Depending on the type of licensing we choose for, we can have below options for getting SQL Server on the Microsoft Azure VM.

– Create a SysPreppedImage of the SQL Server version of our choice on an hyper-v VM on out local environment and then Upload it to Azure.
– Create a virtual machine running Windows from the Azure portal and then install SQL Server on it.
– Provision a SQL Server virtual machine in Azure from the Azure portal.
SysPreppedImage of the SQL Server on Hyper-V VM and Upload to Azure – In this method, we can use the SQL Server SysPrep install which creates a SQL Server image, which can be used to complete and create a full SQL Server instance on any other servers. Once the SQL Server SysPrep image has been created on a hyper-v VM, next step is to upload the VHD file of the hyper-v VM to Azure Blob storage. Now we can use the uploaded VHD file and create an image from Azure Management portal.

Create a virtual machine running Windows – In this method, we can create a windows virtual machine from the Azure portal. There is an option available on Azure portal to provision a Windows Server image. Once the Windows VM is created, next step is to copy SQL Server installation media on to the newly created VM and install the SQL Server on our own.

Provision a SQL Server virtual machine in Azure – In this method, we can install SQL Server directly on a windows VM from Azure portal. This method is an easy way to get SQL Server installed on the new windows Azure VM on Microsoft Azure.

All the three methods mentioned above have their own advantages and disadvantages interms of licensing, cost, etc. Depending on the requirement, DBAs and management can choose the appropriate method best suited for their environment.

Hope this was helpful.

This is applicable for below versions of SQL Server

SQL Server 2008 R2
SQL Server 2012
SQL Server 2014
SQL Server 2016

Thanks,
SQLServerF1 Team
In-Depth Blogs on SQL Server, Information about SQL Server Conferences and Events, Frequently asked questions, SQL Server Trainings

 

Choosing Where to Host SQL Server Database

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Cloud solutions has been gaining increased support and many customers moving their data on to cloud technologies or planning to move in future. When it comes to running SQL Server or hosting a SQL Server database, there are several options for DBAs or management which include On-premise physical server, On-premise Virtual server, Infrastructure as service(IaaS) or SQL Azure database as service(PaaS). There are various factors which can can consider about choosing which applications are better run on which of the above mentioned environment and which features impact on where the SQL Server instance and databases are better hosted in one of the above environments. Below are list of items to consider for choosing where to host SQL Server database from On-premise physical server, On-premise Virtual server, Infrastructure as service(IaaS) or SQL Azure database as service(PaaS).

SQL Server Version Support – If you are looking for flexibility and control over which versions of SQL Server instance and which patches to be applied then any one from On-premise physical server, On-premise Virtual server, Infrastructure as service(IaaS) can be your choice as all these support any version of SQL Server and patches to be applied based on DBA/Developer team recommendations. Where as SQL Azure database as service(PaaS) does not offer this flexibility and allows us to only choose from one the existing versions available and any new patches may be forced at times.
Security – For very critical applications, On-premise physical server, On-premise Virtual server are preferred as these are maintained at our own data centers and brings more control over security. Infrastructure as service(IaaS) can be used for sensitive applications which have high security requirements, but not too very highly critical.

Storage – In On-premise physical server, On-premise Virtual server, the storage support, configuration and its performance is purely determined by the storage teams as per the requirement from the DBAs, Developers and Management. For Infrastructure as service(IaaS) or SQL Azure database as service(PaaS), the storage and its speeds are to be chosen from available options and has different cost for different storage sizes and performance, so based on our requirement we can choose the require storage.

Backups – For On-premise physical server, On-premise Virtual server backups are to be taken care by DBA or backup team and can choose to use native maintenance plans, custom scripts or third party backup tools and can perform backups locally or to backup share or tape. In Infrastructure as service(IaaS) backups can be configured to store locally which is Azure storage. In SQL Azure database as service(PaaS) backups are taken care by Microsoft and we only have to choose how many days the backups are to be stored which decides RTO or RPO. Depending on the settings chosen the cost would be impacted.

Cost – On-premise physical server involves high cost for maintaining hardware, OS, Network, Storage, SQL Server, etc. For On-premise Virtual server the cost of hardware less compare to On-premise physical server as we can use one server host to host multiple guest systems, this reduces the hardware maintenance cost, but this will bring additional cost of administering virtualization, rest all costs remain same for Storage, SQL Server, etc. For Infrastructure as service(IaaS) the cost is further lower as this reduces the hardware maintenance cost as it is taken care by Microsoft, but other costs of Storage, SQL Server, etc will remain same. SQL Azure database as service(PaaS) is the lowest price option available as hardware, and many SQL Server operational costs are reduced as these are taken care by Microsoft.

Suited Applications – On-premise physical server, On-premise Virtual server are better suited for applications which are hosted on our own data center which avoids network latency between applications and databases. Mission critical, data sensitive and high performance required applications are better to be run on On-premise physical server, On-premise Virtual server where we want more control. Infrastructure as service(IaaS) is best for Dev, Test type servers or servers which are not mission critical, but still are important and expected high performance with varied performance at different times. SQL Azure database as service(PaaS) is best suited for new applications developer keeping in mind cloud technologies to take advantage of cloud features.

Hope this was helpful.

This is applicable for below versions of SQL Server

SQL Server 2008 R2
SQL Server 2012
SQL Server 2014
SQL Server 2016

Thanks,
SQLServerF1 Team
In-Depth Blogs on SQL Server, Information about SQL Server Conferences and Events, Frequently asked questions, SQL Server Trainings

 
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