Let’s face it. For most of us relational database software is about as interesting as watching paint dry on a wall. But for many business enterprises, database infrastructure is vitally important to the entire operation. So vital in fact, it can’t be ignored or short-changed in terms of decision making or resources at any management level.

Therefore, enterprises should take note that Microsoft has announced that SQL Server 2016 is now generally available to all. As of June 1, 2016, anyone can download a free 180-day trial of Microsoft’s latest version of its enterprise database application.

Specifications and pricing

SQL Server 2016 requires .NET Framework 4.6, which will be installed during the process if it is not already present. The SQL application requires 6GB of hard drive space and at least 1GB of RAM memory. More of each is highly recommended. It is important to note that SQL Server 2016 does NOT support x86 CPUs. You have to have an x64 processor with a recommended clock speed of at least 2GHz.

The enterprise version of SQL Server 2016 costs $14,256 per core, while the standard version costs $3,717 per core. However, if you migrate your Oracle database systems over to SQL, Microsoft will give you the necessary licenses for free with a Software Assurance subscription.

SEE: Dump Oracle and get a free license for Microsoft SQL Server

For developers in a non-production environment, SQL Server 2016 is free. And, if you need a database application for a small operation under 10GB in size, you can get an Express version of SQL Server 2016, which is also free.

New features

Microsoft’s press releases about SQL Server 2016 hail several new features, including more speed and more security, but those obvious and predictable claims to improvements are not the whole story. Potentially the most beneficial new feature for enterprises is a change in philosophy when it comes to analytics.

Microsoft’s strategy is to have much of the enterprise-level analytical infrastructure handled within the database application by SQL Server 2016. Instead of requiring the extraction of data to an outside analytical application, enterprises can analyze transactions on a real-time basis from within the database itself. This should increase the efficiency and speed of acquiring analytical information from the database to an advantageous degree.

To put it simply–no more pulling data out of the database in an effort to analyze what is happening within the database.

SEE: Microsoft SQL Server 2016 is a wrap

Bottom line

Microsoft SQL Server 2016 is now generally available to everyone. While Microsoft offers us the lineup of usual suspects–more speed, more security, more value–it may well be the ability to perform analytical calculations at the database level that enterprises will derive the most benefit.

The key to SQL Server 2016’s overall success will likely hinge on how well it is received by the developer community. If Microsoft can sell enterprises on the benefits of real-time data-base-level analytics, then the developers will follow.

Obviously, contemplating a change or upgrade to a database application is not as stimulating as developing new products or closing a big sale to a big client, but it is a necessary endeavor for many enterprises. SQL Server 2016 is a capable product with a 180-day trial period that is worthy of your serious consideration, especially if you are contemplating a change in your current database application.

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Your thoughts

What database application does your enterprise rely on? How is it working out for you? Are you contemplating a change? Share your opinions and advice with fellow TechRepublic members.