I had the opportunity to do a presentation at work last week about SQL Server 2022. I titled it “Features in SQL Server 2022 We’re Looking Forward To”. I threw together a list and ran it by some coworkers first. Of the list of approximately 20 items, only 4 were deemed low priority so it would be OK if we didn’t talk about. I only had 30 minutes so I couldn’t even do a single demo. I think I had more links to various pages and blog posts than bullet points about what the features were.
But it definitely help me solidify my thoughts about SQL Server 2022 – this is a major release that requires a lot of attention.
Talking through the changes that have been going on to the database engine since cardinality estimator changes in SQL Server 2014, you can definitely see how everything has building up on the changes previously. With the introduction of Query Store in SQL Server 2016, we can start applying the better plans to queries and see regression. With SQL 2022, we can apply query store hints and have query store available for read replicas in Availability Groups so we can do plan analysis on our read workloads as well. Plus, Query Store will be on by default with new databases.
The gains for intelligent query processing keep adding up as well – from interleaved execution of multi-statement table valued functions, inlining of scalar functions, batch and row mode memory grant feedback in SQL Server 2017 and 2019 to now adding feedback for cardinality estimation and degree of parallelism with SQL 2022. Our query plans are now able to give us more information too, like why a plan can’t go parallel.
Since SQL Server has been supported on Linux since SQL Server 2017, we have the ability to test SQL Server 2022 public preview using containers right now. But we have a new ability to test what our databases are like in Azure SQL with the Azure SQL Database Emulator. This means we can see whether functionality works or even if it’s feasible to migrate our databases in Azure without burning Azure credits. If I’m reading the documentation correctly, Azure SQL Database Emulator uses a SQL Edge container as the target for deploying the database. This makes ”testing before buying” accessible and easier to see how things could work in the cloud. This is a major plus when trying to see what can be adopted in the cloud.
Speaking of the cloud, the ability to have Managed Instances as part of an Availability Group with SQL Server instances on-prem is also huge. Being able to failover from or to the cloud offers a lot of flexibility depending on your needs. And the concept of the contained availability groups, with server level database info like logins and jobs, is huge for even just setting up AGs.
Of course, this isn’t to mention the new T-SQL functionality that others are talking about. Or the other security and miscellaneous features that have been introduced. If you’re interested in the full list, here’s a link to Microsoft’s documentation.
I’ve already read a bunch of community bloggers going into details of these features and changes. Hopefully you’re looking for those and reading them as well. For me, what’s exciting is to see the big picture and how things are coming together. Part of it is seeing how everything is building on each other. The other part is seeing how Microsoft is changing its marketing and positioning the data platform. It’s explicitly talking about the connection between the databases (SQL Server, Azure SQL, CosmosDB), analytics (Power BI, Synapse, Machine Learning), and governance (Purview). On the one hand, it’s marketing and should be taken as just that. But on the other hand, it gives us a clue about what direction that our industry is going in and what we should be keeping our eyes on. Think about it – what does it mean when data governance is mentioned on equal footing with both the database itself and the analytics? This is the reason why I’m interested in seeing where this takes us.
In some ways, I feel like I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, but I’m OK with that. We should be excited by the tech that we work with and the direction it’s going in. I’m definitely looking forward to being able to play with these new features soon. Can’t wait to hear what features you’re looking forward to with SQL 2022.
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