Last week I headed up to London to take part in SQLBits X (29-31 March). Amongst other things, it was the official UK technical launch for SQL Server 2012 and also the largest SQL Event in Europe. The conference saw the largest gathering of SQL Server Product Team members outside of North America and the SQL Server Customer Advisory Team (SQLCAT) and Microsoft CSS engineers were on hand to discuss technical issues and give architectural guidance.
There were nine parallel tracks over 83 sessions over the two days, with 15 deep-dive training seminars. Two keynote talks from Quentin Clarke (Corporate Vice-President Microsoft), David Flynn (CEO Fusion-IO) and Conor Cunningham (Principal Software Architect for SQL Server) gave attendees an overview of the new features in SQL Server 2012.
The three main issues addressed by SQL Server 2012 are data explosion, consumerization of IT, and Public, Private Cloud. I’ve highlighted some of the technical features discussed below:
- A Mission Critical new feature called AlwaysOn that allows integrated high availability and disaster recovery. It enables idle hardware to be utilised with some data features being offloaded to the active secondary servers.
- Simplified deployment and management of high availability.
- Support for direct attached storage.
- Enhancements for data visualization with self-service analytics tools like Power View and SharePoint collaboration.
- Data consistency achieved with a new tool called Data Quality Services and enhancements to Master Data Services.
- Column Store Index ‘xVelocity’, an in-memory technology, significantly improves performance for data warehousing and business intelligence.
- SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) includes a new development environment for database developers to work on the SQL Server platform for both on and off premise development from SQL Server 2005 upwards.
- Application testing can utilize Distributed Replay to help with tuning and access the impact of future upgrades.
- On Premise and Cloud architectures brought together with bi-directional data sync. This allows the sharing of data using replicas in the cloud which span multiple environments.
- Big data capabilities based on Apache Hadoop are incorporated to process large volumes of unstructured data.
With so many interesting sessions scheduled, it was difficult to choose what to attend. I went to various talks on Big Data and Cloud services within SQL Server which were most enjoyable, sharing a vast array of technical information with the attendees.
The Big Data and Data Warehousing session by Thomas Kejser looked at the paradigm shift and where Hadoop fits with scalability – you have to love the cute elephant! The architectural patterns and practices SQL Azure session by Ewan Fairweather highlighted various items to consider when dealing with shared database infrastructure. The SQL Server 2012 TAP lessons learned showed an interesting case study on how a migration of a mission critical application to SQL Server 2012 was carried out. I gained some useful insight on things to consider when upgrading to SQL Server 2012.
My absolute favourite session of this conference was the DW Design with the Product Team with Conor Cunningham and Thomas Kejser. This talk addressed architectural patterns for designs in data warehouses, comparing the mathematical and customer requirements. I will be watching videos of many of the sessions I wasn’t able to attend once they become available on the SQLBits website.
All in all the conference was amazing and it was privilege to help out at the event.
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