I’m NOT a BI guy, by any stretch, but I have been following the improvements of SQL over time, and while at first I wasn’t expecting too much from SQL 2012, the SharePoint Conference woke me up to some major improvements that made me dig deeper for more answers. Many are waiting for some big “15” announcement of SharePoint, and I believe these enhancements in SQL 2012 previously known as code name “Denali” are worth looking at. I’m now telling our architects we need to pay attention to this in a big way as we architect our SharePoint 2010 farms for BI and in our Disaster Recovery plans of today.
1. Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Improvements - Always On – this was the big one. At the SharePoint Conference they showed an automatic failover of a 14 TB database in less than one minute. There’s a ton in here. Improvements to combining the best of log shipping and mirroring into one. Such as automatic failover for groups of databases with automatic or manual failover or failover an entire instance of SQL. Don’t forget the ability to do failover multi site across subnets with encryption and compression built in and with multiple secondaries!
2. SQL Reporting Services is now a SharePoint 2010 Service Application - One of the headache’s of SharePoint and BI was trying to get SQL Reporting Services to behave in a way that’s scalable not just for itself, but for the entire farm design. When SQL BI folks would ask for SSRS integration, it was a pain since it felt like they hand’t really done their SharePoint homework. SSRS is now a full on Service Application. This means flexibility, this means it will be to administer with central admin being the only place for SharePoint configuration, and management is simply working with the SSRS service app databases. Much easier to manage disaster recovery for SSRS and the entire farm that supports it. Troubleshooting will be much easier as well, as an example SSRS logs to the ULS giving you the same correlation experience that SharePoint 2010 provides.
3. Flexible SharePoint Architecture Integration - Architecture scale out and flexibility and topologies are now vastly c.a Obviously it’s the service application piece that did it, but it’s worth it’s own line to say scale out is big.
4. Cloud Scale on Demand! - Speaking of scale out, well how about scale up… scale up to the cloud on demand with SQL Azure and SQL 2012! The cloud stories don’t stop there. Cloud Services Integration of SQL with SharePoint is a huge unexplored territory and believe me you’ll see a lot of interesting hybrid things going on. The scaling to the cloud story is where it starts. We now have to always consider cloud storage when architecting our farms.
5. SQL 2012 and SQL Reporting Services now supports Claims and WCF communication. This is big for me. We’ve had to design our farms around BI as the app that we couldn’t do well in our extranet since we were using Claims for all our extranet SharePoint 2010 farms. What was only an Intranet app or AD only, now auth gets very interesting…
6. Cross Farm Reporting - Not only does SQL Reporting Services provide good stuff for your BI team, but the fact that reporting in ShareSharePoint cross farm reporting iRepon SharePoint leverages SQL Reporting Services means now you can do Cross Farm Reporting in SQL Server Reporting Services 2012 with SharePoint 2010.
7. Performance – For Reporting Services you’ll now see parity between SharePoint and SQL 2012 mode. Reports use to be 2-3x slower. As well it’s 30% to 60% faster out of the gates than SQL 2008 R2 as a whole. Column query processing on the same hardware can be 10x faster, with reduced IO, less tuning required (Search for more on this in project Apollo.) The SharePoint Conference Keynote demo showed how responsive a recordset with millions and millions of records could still be sub second response times across the list and search queries.
8. Powershell for SQL - You thought Powershell brought a lot to SharePoint? The new commandlets in SQL 2012 do wonders for automating common tasks and for configuring SQL. It still may take you a while, but it’s the ability to do these tasks in an automated way that makes it powerful. As an example you can configure the Always On or even initiate failovers right through powershell… now that’s powerful and useful for flexibility when integrating into your monitoring solutions.
9. Visually appealing presentation quality reports, clean UI, and powerful tools - From a data perspective SQL Reporting Services is designed to be high presentation quality reports and they now look so better. Other enhancements include managing your data alerts right in SharePoint. PowerPivot (v2) for SQL 2012 data mashups are really cool and they’ve made it really easy to save into SharePoint. It can really make the BI look really good, and it’s fast, super powerful.Project Crescent has been rebranded as Power View and there will be a browser based version that will work on iOS & Android devices. Wild stuff! Also expect a cool story board to PowerPoint functionality to be added before RTM.
SQL 2012 Analysis Services integrates and talks to SharePoint 2010 Excel Services, Reporting Services, PowerPivot. Project Juneau has been rebranded as SQL Server Data Tools new experiences for BI users working with data.
10. Improvements in Security – Now SQL 2012 can sit on Windows Core! That’s pretty serious for the hardening story. Integrated encryption for Always On definitely improves the default security position that is often overlooked in cross site for disaster recovery scenarios as well.
With the recent announcement of SQL 2012 shipping in the first half of 2012 please check out the Official Press Release from Microsoft, the SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services information, the SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services, and the SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Information Management
I suggest following @MicrosoftBI and @SQLServer on twitter for more announcements.
Download SQL Server 2012 CTP3