When I first started working with SQL Server, version 7.0 was the cutting edge. That version was released in late 1998, and the project I was working on at the time was still in the planning stages. The powers that be decided to move to 7.0 rather than 6.5, and it was only some time later when I had to support some 6.5 instances that I came to appreciate the paradigm shift that the new version represented. I think we can all agree that we all benefit from that brave new world to this day.
Since then, we have seen six new releases of SQL Server (2000, 2005, 2008, 2008R2, 2012 and 2014), and we now find ourselves on the cusp of the release of SQL Server 2016. We have seen over the past couple of releases an increase in the transparency of the development process with the release of beta version, and 2016 took it a whole new level. There have been, if my count is correct, eleven public preview versions released as of this writing, up to release candidate 1. That is absolutely incredible, and I think Microsoft deserves a ton of credit for opening up the process to this degree.
The new and updated feature set in SQL Server 2016 is equally impressive. I have downloaded, installed, and (to varying degrees) used every single one of those preview versions, and yet I feel that I’ve barely skimmed the surface of what I need to eventually learn. I have studied pretty much every new feature in the product, but I just haven’t been able to dig in nearly as deep as I would like. There’s just too much.
So, I guess that all of this just my way of saying that I’m really quite excited for the imminent release of SQL Server 2016. It is packed with new features, and I am sure that it will be some time until I get the opportunity to use some of these new bits of functionality in real systems (and until they mature enough to be ready for such use). Still, this is an exciting time for me — more so than for the past few releases.