The event coincided with the general availability of SQL Server 2022, which contains a slew of new features and enhancements to the database engine. The following are my top highlights and insights from the sessions I attended and talks I had while in Seattle.
We’re living in a hybrid world - let's accommodate it
It's encouraging to see Microsoft take a realistic approach and build for hybrid environments with both on-premises and cloud deployments, allowing businesses to run workloads where they need to be run. Microsoft and SQL Server are adding a number of functions aimed at making working in hybrid environments easier.
Through Managed Instance Link, you may replicate between on-premises SQL Server and Azure Managed Instances.
Improved data lake capabilities are provided through more smooth interaction with S3 to enhance external table capabilities, as well as simple SQL commands to transport data between S3 and RDBMS.
Enhancements to the performance of dispersed Availability Groups in order to increase WAN network efficiency.
Authentication using Microsoft Purview Azure Active Directory.
Learn more about the 2022 improvements here.
Heavy focus on scalability and recovery
Several new and improved scalability and recovery capabilities within SQL Server; including additional backup options to take advantage of snapshot capabilities within underlying storage subsystems, as well as native S3 support - all aimed at speeding up the backup process for very large deployments.
Transact-SQL Snapshots Backups
As databases grow in size, one common difficulty is determining how to do backups in an efficient manner. SQL Server 2022 has Transact-SQL Snapshot Backups, which are intended to take advantage of underlying storage subsystems. This can be a huge victory for enterprises with compatible storage subsystems AND very large database deployments in terms of being able to efficiently back up their SQL Server databases.
Integration of S3 Object Storage
SQL Server 2022 introduces a few highly helpful new features, including native interaction with S3-compliant object storage.
1. Backup and restore directly to S3-compliant storage. This is readily accomplished by just providing the S3 url in the backup or restore statement. By including multiple S3 target endpoints in the command, backups can be parallelized.
2. SQL has been expanded to accommodate External tables, with data stored on S3-compatible object storage. This allows you to store data in S3 and access it through the database as you would any other table or view, which has various advantages.
Data can be offloaded from the RDBMS engine to object storage, decreasing database size and subsequent backup processes.
Database permissions and SQL Server security features are still used to manage data access.
Increasing database capabilities for use in data lakes.
Older (historical) data that is rarely viewed can be migrated to the S3 object store while still allowing end-users SQL access.
Overall, the S3 integration appears to be pretty fluid and well integrated into the database engine, which will minimise friction in usage and help businesses to manage their data landscape more simply.
Availability Group improvements
A variety of Availability Group enhancements aimed at making various metadata-related databases easier to manage, as well as building on top of existing distributed Availability Groups to allow replication between SQL Server and Azure Managed Instances.
Contained Availability Groups: enables you to establish an AG containing SQL Agent jobs, users, logins, and so on. This will help to reduce the overhead associated with handling these items inside an Availability Group configuration and to ease automated failovers. AGs' technical functioning remains unaltered, as are the limits of Availability Groups and Basic Availability Groups. If you're an AG user, this is something you should experiment with.
Managed Instance Link: allows data to be replicated from SQL Server to Azure SQL. Environments for Managed Instances based on Distributed Availability Groups. This may be valuable for businesses wishing to create read-only settings, outsource analytics to cloud platforms, or migrate from on-premises SQL Server to the cloud in stages. SQL Server 2022 also allows for DR. There are some restrictions with this at the moment, but it's an intriguing development to follow.
For more information, read this Microsoft documentation.
Log Shipping is still prevalent
With all of SQL Server's development attention and conversations centred on Availability Groups, one would assume Log Shipping would be extinct. However, speaking with the many community members who visited our exhibit (many thanks to our magicians!!! ), we discovered that Log Shipping is still the preferred option for SQL Server DR for a high majority of enterprises. It's a well-known, trustworthy, and dependable technique for delivering a resilient DR strategy. The time-consuming setup and continuing maintenance was recurring theme among those who used Log Shipping. This is where software that can automate the configuration and management of Log Shipping can relieve the burden on DBAs while simultaneously utilising Log Shipping's reliability for DR.
SQL Server 2022 includes many excellent new capabilities and improvements, and businesses should make use of them where possible. However, sometimes the tried-and-true features can be the best option for providing critical capabilities, such as Disaster Recovery.
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