Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Microsoft Gulf invited UAE businesses to delve deeper into their data and harness its potential like never before, with SQL Server 2016, the latest version of the company’s flagship database and analytics platform.

Microsoft held a special event called Data Driven on 27 April at the JW Marriott Marquis hotel in Dubai, to introduce IT and business decision makers, and technology professionals, to the transformation of the database. SQL Server 2016 can deliver a consistent experience in both on-premise and cloud deployments, with common development and management tools – providing an exceptional, value-added data experience, no matter where customers choose to implement it.

The data driven event also hosted a session by research firm Gartner around advancing Data and Analytics initiatives in a World of Big Data and Data Science. Previously Gartner has also recognized Microsoft as a leader in the Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms and placed Microsoft as a leader in the Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems – distinguishing Microsoft’s completeness of vision and ability to execute in the data warehouse market.

In the UAE and across the Gulf region, governments and business are taking the journey towards smart societies, developing technology platforms built on real-time, people-to-machine or machine-to-machine transactions. These systems thrive on 24-7, 100%-uptime access to databases capable of split-second responses.

SQL Server 2016 was built for these challenges. It supports hybrid transactional and analytical processing; advanced analytics and machine learning; mobile business intelligence; data integration; always-encrypted query processing; and in-memory transactions with persistence. It is also possibly the world’s only relational database management system (RDMS) to be born in the cloud – tested on Microsoft’s Azure platform, across 22 global data centres, handling billions of requests per day.

Cost of ownership has never been lower, with customers able to save up to $10 million over three years, compared with competing alternatives. Microsoft has worked hard to give SQL Server 2016 customers real savings by introducing built-in value-adding features that would normally need to be purchased separately. For example, through its acquisition last year of mobile business intelligence leader Datazen Software, Microsoft is now able to provide customers with mobile BI on any device. In SQL Server 2016 this facility will be integrated into Reporting Services at no extra cost, allowing DBAs and data scientists to publish modern reports using PowerBI or Excel 2016, to an iPhone or Android-based phone, as well as to Windows Phone handsets. Even customers that choose to enable self-service BI will be able to do so at a fraction of the cost of other products.

Microsoft also stands ready to help new customers in their migration to SQL Server 2016, providing training to DBAs, including hands-on labs and instructor-led demos, and lessons on how to manage the deployment process, both on premises or in the cloud.

SQL Server 2016’s real-time in-memory processing capabilities are industry-leading, allowing up to 100-times faster analytics with updatable in-memory column-stores. It is also the only commercial database that leads in both transaction processing (as per the TPC-E benchmark, which simulates the OLTP workloads of brokerage companies) and data warehousing (as per the TPC-H benchmark). This means customers can get real-time insights when querying massive data sets. New Stretch Database technology allows DBAs to use Azure for almost limitless scalability, and AlwaysOn Availability Groups enable low-cost disaster recovery.

At a time when the Middle East is under ever-increasing attack from cyber criminals, regional organisations can rest more easily, knowing that SQL Server has been the industry’s least vulnerable database, six years running, according to the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) public security board. Apart from Always Encrypted, which guard’s data in memory and storage, other facilities mitigate attacks, protect user data, and allow developers to build access-restricted applications.

“It is no exaggeration to say data is the very lifeblood of the modern business,” said Necip Ozyucel, Cloud and Enterprise Business Group Lead Microsoft Gulf. “It can inform and inspire; it can bring insights that help companies outmaneuver competitors; it has the potential to disrupt entire industries. Microsoft has long been a leader in the data platform and analytics space. Some DBAs using SQL Server products today weren’t even born in 1989, when we released the first version. That’s a tradition we take very seriously, and so with SQL Server 2016, Microsoft is transforming the database – with the first of its kind to be born in the cloud and deliver enterprise-class functionality, performance and scale. Having been rigorously tested on Azure, it is battle-hardened and customer-ready.”