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Unlocking the power of big data

By Parul Bhandari, Government and Public Safety National Security Lead for Open and Big Data, Microsoft on March 18, 2016

Filed under State & Local Government

SQL Server 2016 represents the biggest leap forward in Microsoft’s data platform history. Governments of all sizes can analyze data at scale, unlocking never-before-possible insights that help them improve both their efficiency and their service to citizens. At the same time, they can operate at their own comfort level in a hybrid environment, while better protecting their information.

SQL Server Parul Bhandari

Microsoft discussed the upcoming SQL Server 2016 at an event in New York City on March 10, setting a new standard for the pace of innovation. As government IT administrators evaluate Microsoft’s new database, here are some of the capabilities they won’t want to miss:

Advanced analytics

Industry analysts recognize the breadth and depth of Microsoft’s capabilities in data, intelligence, and the cloud. Microsoft is the only company recognized as a leader across data platforms and cloud by Gartner in both vision and execution, in database, business intelligence, advanced analytics, data warehouse, cloud infrastructure and cloud application platforms.

SQL Server 2016 builds on this reputation by bringing next-generation, advanced analytics to governments, helping IT administrators turn vast amounts of data into actionable insights. The database uses in-memory technology to improve the speed and performance of data queries. It includes the ability to run the R open-source programming language within the database itself, opening up the opportunity to perform advanced analytics right from within SQL Server. SQL Server 2016 also includes PolyBase, a new technology that makes it possible to extract value from both structured data and unstructured data without the time and expense of moving it around or transforming it into a common format.

Used in combination with other Microsoft technologies, SQL Server 2016 puts data at the fingertips of government workers. For example, employees can use Power Query to pull data from numerous sources into data models and analytical reports. Moreover, they can view these insights as rich visualizations using their Windows, iOS, and Android mobile devices. Whether it’s predicting future outcomes from past trends or analyzing the results of public programs, SQL Server 2016 can deliver the advanced insights that governments need.

Enhanced security and encryption

SQL Server already has an outstanding security record. In fact, for the last six years, it has had the fewest security vulnerabilities of any major database on the market, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. SQL Server 2016 builds on our commitment to security by offering several additional features to ensure that government data is always protected.

Always Encrypted is an industry-first technology that helps protect data by encrypting it while at rest, in use, and when processing queries—with the decryption key provided only to authorized users. By using Dynamic Data Masking, IT administrators can create rules that hide sensitive data such as phone numbers, social security numbers, and bank information to prevent unauthorized access. Similarly, Row-Level Security enables IT administrators to restrict the information employees can see in database tables based on their role within the organization. And an enhanced AlwaysOn Availability Groups improves database recovery by allowing up to three synchronous replicas for auto-failover across domains.

Improved hybrid environments

SQL Server 2016 is designed to work in a hybrid environment, delivering a flexible and consistent experience both on-premises and in the cloud. New tools in SQL Server and Microsoft Azure make it possible to shift database content between a government agency’s on-premises infrastructure and the cloud, to back up on-premises databases to Azure, and to access resources no matter where they’re stored. For example, IT administrators can pin a Reporting Services paginated report item to a Power BI dashboard so they can view all their information in one place. They can also access on-premises data from the Power BI service without the need to move the data to the cloud. In addition, they can take advantage of Stretch Database to automatically move on-premises data to the cloud for archiving after a specified length of time, freeing up valuable on-premises storage space while maintaining easy access to their data in both environments.

All these features are built directly into the database without the need for expensive add-ons. To learn more about how SQL Server 2016 can benefit your government agency, please see Joseph Sirosh’s blog post, “SQL Server 2016: The database for mission-critical intelligence.” Also, watch the recent webcast in which Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and other leaders discuss the power of Microsoft’s new database.