SQL Server 2012 – Road-tested and ready for you to drive
Why does it make sense to move to SQL Server 2012 sooner rather than later?
By Brian Larson and Dan English
SQL Server 2012 is ready to roll. Tested, tweaked, retested and retweaked ― SQL Server 2012 is not new to us at Superior Consulting Services. In fact, we are quite familiar with the BI features of SQL Server 2012. Our participation in Microsoft MVP events and in the SQL Server 2012 Software Design Review has provided us direct access to the Microsoft development teams over the past two years. SCS consultants have had the opportunity to spend quality time behind the wheel of this release’s BI functionality. Based on our experience, you can rest assured it’s a mature, robust upgrade that you’ll find highly reliable, valuable and ready to drive.
So let’s get right under the hood. As we shared at our SQL Server 2012 Smart Dive event hosted in January at Microsoft, here are the must-have features we think will impress you:
Self-Service BI is one of the most meaningful recent innovations in SQL Server. SQL Server 2012 adds a significant new chapter to the self-service BI story with the addition of Power View. Power View is an ad hoc reporting and visual exploration capability that enables any end-user to answer business questions and gain insights with just two or three clicks.
BI Semantic Model (BISM) is the next generation of data model within the SQL Server environment. This model unites PowerPivot and Analysis Services. This facilitates a data model that can be scaled from a single user to a workgroup or an organization-wide solution. The Tabular version of the BI Semantic Model, when hosted by a special instance of Analysis Services, provides an enterprise-level solution combining the flexibility of PowerPivot with powerful features such as data partitioning and role-based security.
Data Quality Services (DQS), a new feature in 2012, provides a way to capture rules, valid values and corrections for domains within your business data. For example, a domain covering Minnesota cities could have rules saying “Must have at least three characters,” or “Can have no more than 25 characters.” It can list all the valid city names in Minnesota and it can define corrections such as “Mineapolis” changed to “Minneapolis.”
AlwaysOn technology is breakthrough — providing seamless application failover, backup and recovery, along with rolling upgrade and patch.
ColumnStore Index, in the Enterprise Edition, can improve data warehouse and reporting query performance by orders of magnitude.
SQL Azure makes for ease of movement between on-premise and cloud applications — just write once and run/manage anywhere.
At the end of the road, SQL Server provides a happy medium. You no longer face the tricky choice between unfettered control by users, versus IT holding all the power. This is an agile solution that continues to work in multiple scenarios.
The self-service BI features and flexible data model make it easier than ever for small and midsize organizations to benefit from business intelligence. The new Business Intelligence Edition of SQL Server 2012 provides access to BI features previously available only with the Enterprise Edition. SQL Azure gives you the chance to create a BI platform in the cloud, thus avoiding the need for on-premise infrastructure.
Bottom-line ― Why should you switch to SQL Server 2012 now?
Productivity. Everyone works toward their strengths – IT concentrates on data management and security while the subject matter experts focus on analyzing the data and gaining business insight. The intuitive interface provided by Power View reduces training costs, increases user efficiency, and makes data interaction fun. All of this leads to greater productivity.
Compliance. Because the IT department retains control of the data made available through BI Semantic Models, it is easier to ensure compliance with privacy and auditability standards.
Quality Data. Data Quality Services provides an efficient means for capturing data quality rules and processes in a central location. It also facilitates the application of those rules and processes to data throughout the organization. This means less staff time spent reviewing and cleansing data as well as increased accuracy of data analysis that comes from clean data.
Query Efficiency. The ColumnStore Index saves time by increasing the responsiveness of reports and decreasing the stress on source systems. This may allow for the postponement of hardware upgrades and facilitate more frequent data loads to reduce data latency.
Reduced Downtime. AlwaysOn technology provides a high availability environment to reduce or remove productivity losses and frustration that come from downtime. The new AlwaysOn features may also allow you to gain value from standby resources as the source for reporting or data backup operations.
Cloud Computing. SQL Azure provides an environment where cost of operation is known in advance. In this environment, costs go from a capital outlay to an expense item. In the SQL Azure environment, scalability and high availability are built right in.
What should you consider before upgrading to SQL Server 2012?
Are you currently getting timely information? Does IT have appropriate control over business information? If you’ve said no to either, consider a move.
Do you have confidence in the quality of your data? The sooner strong data quality measures are put in place, the less effort required for data cleansing down the road.
Is your uptime at acceptable levels? Is your current SQL Server installation providing BI information whenever you want it? And is it always available, with a solid disaster recovery and business continuation plan? If not, SQL 2012, with AlwaysOn technology, will be an important improvement to your system availability and data protection.
Do you have significant peaks and valleys in your SQL Server demand? Are you anticipating substantial growth in the near future? Does your organization have trouble monetizing the capital investments necessary for your data management and business intelligence needs? If so, a SQL Azure solution will help.
Now that you’ve decided on SQL Server 2012, what’s next?
Plan your move. Compare the SQL Server 2012 Editions available and choose the one that’s right for your company size and objectives, (e.g., security, data volume, high availability, etc.).
Take advantage of tools from Microsoft:
Upgrade in stages. There’s no need to upgrade everything, everywhere all at once ― prioritize and select the SQL Server 2012 feature that offers you the most significant ROI. Then put in a SQL Server 2012 instance to implement that feature. Remember to always test in a parallel environment before upgrading in production!
Finally, work with a Microsoft-approved partner to determine the most advantageous licensing agreement for you.
Why partner with SCS to make your move to SQL Server 2012?
To maximize your value and realize ROI as quickly as possible, you need a partner for the journey. Think of Team SCS as your pit-crew. We are hands-on SQL Server 2012 Experts and we know how to implement SQL Server 2012 to provide the biggest return on your investment. We’ve done the trial and error so you don’t have to. Our relationship with the Microsoft development teams ensures we can put you on the inside track.
We wrote the books! Superior’s very own Brian Larson has authored two books on SQL Server 2012 and has a third on the way, co-authored by Mark Davis, Dan English, and Paul Purington, also members of the SCS team. That’s almost 2000 informative pages on the subject. You won’t find another organization that knows SQL Server 2012 better.
About the Authors:
Brian Larson: email@example.com; 952-890-0606
Dan English: firstname.lastname@example.org; 952-890-0606