Microsoft Product Roadmap Provides Enterprise Guidance

Redmond Channel Partner (RCP) is out with a brand-new, updated Microsoft Product Roadmap, providing enterprise managers in Microsoft shops with guidance about key server software offerings and more.

"For 2016, we're keeping track of the next-gen releases of SQL Server, Windows Server and SharePoint Server, as well as the next major Windows 10 update -- and much more," says the new report compiled by Gladys Rama for RCP, a sister publication of Enterprise Software Journal.

SQL Server 2016 will hit general availability on June 1.

Changes and improvements coming in the long-awaited update include:

  • A new feature called Always Encrypted, which protects both at-rest and in-motion data by keeping the encryption keys within the application.
  • Integration with the R programming language via the new SQL Server R Services, improving analytics capabilities.
  • The new Stretch Database feature, which lets users access more historical data by enabling operational tables to extend between on-premises and the Azure cloud.
  • Native support for the JSON language.
  • Built-in PolyBase, letting users query relational and non-relational data with T-SQL.

"As it has done for many of its flagship products, Microsoft is promising continuous and regular updates to SQL Server 2016 to keep pace with cloud environments," RCP said. " 'Our cloud-first product development model means that new features get hardened at scale in the cloud, delivering proven on-premises experience. In addition, we offer a consistent experience across on-premises and cloud with common development and management tools and common T-SQL,' " RCP quoted Microsoft exec Joseph Sirosh as saying in a blog post last October announcing CTP 3.

The RCP 2016 Microsoft Product Roadmap TOC
[Click on image for larger view.] The RCP 2016 Microsoft Product Roadmap TOC (source: Redmond Channel Partner)

According to Redmond Magazine (also a sister publication of ESJ), editions of the flagship RDBMS include:

  • SQL Server 2016 Enterprise:  This version will be Microsoft's most complete SQL Server 2016 offering, with support for unlimited number of cores, advanced data integration, mobile BI capabilities and advanced "R" statistical computing programming language, to name a few of the exclusive features.
  • SQL Server 2016 Standard:  Microsoft is aiming this version as a lighter offering of its database management system, with support for 24 cores and basic security enhancements.
  • SQL Server 2016 Express:  The company's free SQL Server offering comes with a very basic and stripped down version of the database system, with support for just four cores. Microsoft said this version will be perfect for the creation and deployment of small-scale database applications.
  • SQL Server 2016 Developer: This version will provide the full feature set found in the Enterprise edition to developers looking to build data solutions on top of SQL Server. In March Microsoft made the SQL Server 2014 Developer edition free for Visual Studio Dev Essentials members and announced the same will be true when SQL Server 2016 is released.

Windows Server 2016, meanwhile, is set for some big changes when it comes out, which is expected to be fairly soon, according to RCP.

"First, Windows Server 2016, which Microsoft is expected to release in Q3 of this year, will feature Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers," RCP said. "The former debuted in the third Windows Server 2016 technical preview that was released in August, and the latter in the fourth technical preview released in November.

"Second, Windows Server 2016 will include a 'Nano Server' component, which Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Jeffrey Snover described as 'the most important, most significant change that we've made since Windows NT.' As Microsoft explains it, 'Nano Server is a deeply refactored version of Windows Server with a small footprint and remotely managed installation, optimized for the cloud and a DevOps workflow. It is designed for fewer patch and update events, faster restarts, better resource utilization and tighter security.' According to Microsoft, Nano Server is 20 times smaller than Server Core and, compared to Windows Server, has a virtual hard disk size that's 93 percent smaller, is affected by 92 percent fewer critical bulletins, and requires 80 percent fewer system reboots."

A third server product, SharePoint Server 2016, hit general availability early this month.

"Throughout its messaging about SharePoint Server 2016, Microsoft has emphasized the product's support for running hybrid SharePoint architectures -- that is, situations in which the on-premises server product running in an organization's datacenter is able to integrate with Office 365 running out of a Microsoft cloud datacenter," RCP said. "One of Microsoft's stated goals with SharePoint Server 2016 has been bridging the feature gap between it and SharePoint Online. Microsoft has done this by integrating several Office 365 features -- such as Delve, Groups and Clutter -- into the on-premises server product."

Redmond Magazine picked up on that theme in its announcement early this month. "Last year, this idea was described as being based on Microsoft's FAST enterprise search technology, which powers the Office 365 Delve service with its underlying Office 365 Graph technology, according to a talk by Mark Kashman, a Microsoft senior product manager on the SharePoint team," Redmond said. "This week, Microsoft is continuing this emphasis, stressing collaboration improvements enabled by a hybrid approach using SharePoint Server 2016."

Check out the RCP roadmap for more information on enterprise software products such as Dynamics CRM, BizTalk Server 2016, System Center 2016 and more.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.