Microsoft made waves earlier this year when it announced that its SQL Server database was heading to Linux in mid-2017. For an early peek at what that experience is like, curious database administrators can download a beta release of the software.
Version 1.1 of the so-called SQL Server vNext Community Technology Preview (CTP), released nearly a month after the first preview, contains several performance enhancements and supports more Linux distributions. The new vNext branding is meant to evoke SQL Server's evolution from a Windows-only technology to a cloud-enabled, Linux and container-friendly data platform.
The upcoming release of SQL Server vNext for Linux is one of several moves the software giant is making to court the open source community and developers who make extensive use of Linux to build solutions for the enterprise. "SQL Server vNext represents a major step towards making SQL Server a platform that gives you choices of development languages, data types, on-premises and in the cloud, and across operating systems by bringing the power of SQL Server to Linux, Linux-based Docker containers, and Windows," stated Microsoft in an online support document.
On Linux, SQL Server vNext CTP 1.1 features language enhancements and a performance boost for T-SQL (Transact-SQL) modules that have been natively compiled. The early-access software also can update non-clustered columnstore indexes faster, particularly when the row is in the performance-enhancing delta store clustered index.
Memory grant feedback loops, a memory-optimization feature that analyses memory use as queries are being executed, is now supported in batch mode queries. The update also includes new T-SQL language additions, including the TRIM, CONCAT_WS and TRANSLATE string functions.
The software also now can run on servers with Red Hat 7.3 and Ubuntu 16.10. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server support is in the works, according to Microsoft.
On the Windows flavor of SQL Server vNext CTP 1.1, Microsoft is betting on increased demand for business analytics by enabled support for business intelligence (BI) tools. For example, Power BI and Excel users can dig deeper into aggregated reports, surfacing more granular data directly in the application.
The database also now supports ragged hierarchies, or hierarchies that differ in the number of levels contained in each, in reports and the ability to set permissions on individual tables on tabular models. Tabular model data ingestion and connectivity is improved with the addition of more data sources, including MySQL.
"Starting with SQL Server vNext on Windows CTP 1.1, Analysis Services features a modern connectivity stack similar to the one that users already appreciate in Microsoft Excel and Power BI Desktop," wrote Kay Unkroth, a senior program manager on Microsoft's SQL Server Analysis Services team, in a related blog post. "You are going to be able to connect to an enormous list of data sources, ranging from various file types and on-premises databases through Azure sources and other online services all the way to Big Data systems."