Microsoft unveils new betas for SQL Server 2016, Azure Data Lake services

Big Data (4)
Credit: IDG News Service

Announcements are another step in the company's big data push

Microsoft unwrapped a smorgasbord of data-related offerings at the Professional Association for SQL Server Summit in Seattle on Wednesday, including the next beta for its flagship database server software and the public beta of its Azure Data Lake Store and Analytics services. 

Version 3 of the SQL Server 2016 Community Technical Preview includes new support for SQL Server R Services, which brings the popular open source R language into Microsoft's database software. That way, SQL database administrators can build applications for analyzing data, and data scientists can work with data close to where it's being stored.

In addition to that, the technical preview update includes a bushel of other tweaks to previously released capabilities like SQL Server 2016's Stretch Database feature, which lets companies expand their databases across both on-premises servers and Microsoft's Azure cloud. Interested database administrators will be able to download the update in the coming days. 

Speaking of Azure, the platform's Data Lake Store service (which was previously announced as just Data Lake), has hit public beta, along with the Data Lake Analytics service. Those two services, provided through Microsoft's cloud platform, are designed to let companies handle large amounts of data, without requiring them to worry about how to architect the system for storing that data. 

Data Lake Store is a Hadoop file system that allows users to feed in data of any size and format either from one big load or from an active stream of data. Once it's in there, users can examine it using tools including the new Data Lake Analytics beta, an Apache YARN-based service that lets people examine data with U-SQL, a language that combines C# and SQL.

Finally, Azure SQL Database, Microsoft's managed cloud database service, has gained public beta support for In-Memory OLTP and real-time Operational Analytics. 

All of these announcements are part of Microsoft's push to level up its capabilities as a provider of applications and services for companies that need to handle large amounts of data. That's particularly important as more organizations pull in greater amounts of data from embedded devices, applications and a variety of other sources. The company is also locked in tight competition in the cloud with other service providers like Amazon, which has been pushing its new Aurora database as a SQL Server competitor. 

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