Microsoft released today SQL Server 2022, the latest version of its database software that originally launched more than 33 years ago. Microsoft describes this release as “the most Azure-enabled version of SQL Server to date,” and links to Azure Synapse Link to enable real-time analytics on the database, Azure Purview for data management and disaster recovery using Azure SQL Managed Instance, this release is in many ways the culmination of the foundation for cloud connectivity that the team began several years ago.
“From the beginning the vision [for SQL Server] it was really about – the databases were very complex – how do you make this extremely simple? And in many ways I think that’s a key reason why it’s lasted so long and how we’ve developed it as well,” Ran Kumar, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Azure Data, told me. “One of the big things I think about SQL Server 2022 is that we’ve made it completely cloud-connected with Azure.”
He noted that while the migration of on-prem workloads is happening, all Microsoft customers are moving at very different speeds, and some, for a variety of reasons, may not move to the cloud at all. That, he argues, is why the company is always going for a hybrid approach, but it’s also why many customers are starting to ask how they can benefit from being in the cloud without actually having to move all their data into it. . “That was really the key point of why we invested in making this a cloud version,” Kumar said.
A good example here is the new disaster recovery feature that allows users to replicate their data to a SQL Managed Instance on Azure and use it as a backup for their primary on-premises SQL Server, which should make it easier to fail over when the primary server crashes.
Kumar also noted that with Synapse Link, SQL Server users can now perform real-time analytics on their database without having to build complex infrastructure. “All you have to do is check a box and say, ‘copy this data in near real time.’ It lands it in Synapse and you can have your Power BI report reading that data and that whole pipeline is just built for you,” he said.
And for companies that have a truly hybrid setup, Purview Data Management Service support now allows them to set their policies regardless of whether the data resides in SQL Server in the cloud or on-premises.
In addition to working on new cloud-related capabilities, the team is of course also working on improving overall database performance, stability and security. At the heart of this work, at least for this version, was the database’s intelligent query processing engine, which can now optimize queries in a number of more complex scenarios, for example.
Also of interest is a new pay-as-you-go billing model for SQL Server through Azure Arc, Microsoft’s platform for managing cloud and on-premises resources. Using an Azure Arc connection that is part of the SQL Server 2022 setup process, on-premises users can now choose cloud-enabled billing to manage demand peaks or for ad hoc use cases.
As Kumar noted, SQL Server usage, despite all the competition available today, continues to grow (though in part, this is due to existing customers expanding their usage).
The new release of SQL Server is now generally available, including free developer and express editions.