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Top 7 Features Coming to SQL Server 2016

April 10, 2016
Microsoft recently released the preview of SQL Server 2016 versioned as Consumer Technology Preview (CTP) 2.0. The latest release is not directly focused on Azure features because Microsoft is moving towards a common code base for both the on-premises version of SQL Server and Azure SQL Database which will allow for changes to come into the product in more of an Agile fashion.

In this article, we will unleash top 7 features which will be introduced in SQL Server 2016.

Query Store

The Query Store, configured at the individual database level enables you to maintain a history of query execution plans with  their performance data, and quickly identifies queries that have gotten slower recently. This allows administrators and developers to compulsorily use the old and better plan if needed. 


Microsoft introduced Polybase, a SQL Server connector to Hadoop (and Azure Blob Storage) to its data warehouse appliance Analytics Platform System in 2015. However, the Redmond-based software giant has integrated the functionality into the regular on-premises product. This feature will be beneficial if your regular data processing involves dealing with a lot of large text files. You will be able to store them in Azure Blob Storage or Hadoop and will be able to query as it they were database tables.

Stretch Database

Storage is one of the key factors in today's IT field. Microsoft has taken steps to reduce your storage and the corresponding processing costs with a hybrid feature named - Stretch Database. The core factor is that some part of your tables will be moved into an Azure SQL Database in the cloud in a secure fashion. The query processing for stretching database takes place in Azure so that only only latency is for the return of the rows over the network. As a customer, you will be charged for the SQL Database in Azure when it is used for queries. 

JSON Support

SQL Server 2016 has added support for Java Script Object Notation (JSON) because of the increase in the trend towards the use of Web APIs. It is implemented similar to the way XML support is built in with FOR JSON and OPENJSON, thus enabling you to quickly move JSON data into tables.

Row Level Security

The row level security support for SQL Server 2016 will be useful in multi-tenant environments where you may want to limit data access based on customer ID. However, there are limitation in the implementation of RLS in SQL Server 2016 but it is a  good start to enable database administrators to test drive this unique feature.

Always Encrypted

Always Encrypted is a new feature in SQL Server 2016, which make use of an enhanced client library at the application so the data stays encrypted in transit. It also provides a big push to strengthen the growth of Microsoft Azure.

In-Memory Enhancements

The In-Memory Enhancements feature in SQL Server 2016 provides support for foreign keys, check and unique constraints and parallelism.Moreover, with the addition of this feature, SQL Server tables supports up to 2TB storage from the existing 256GB. The column store indexes, introduced in 2016, also added few enhancements around sorting and better support with AlwaysOn Availability Groups.