SQL Server 2019 is still considered a relevant and widely-used database management system. Its relevance can be attributed to several factors:
Reason 1: Feature-Rich
SQL Server 2019 comes with a variety of features designed to meet the needs of modern data management, analytics, and business intelligence. Here are some of the most important features:
Intelligent Query Processing
SQL Server 2019 introduced Intelligent Query Processing, which aims to improve the performance of your queries with no changes to the application code. Features like scalar UDF inlining, table variable deferred compilation, and batch mode on rowstore are part of this.
Big Data Clusters
One of the most talked-about features is the support for Big Data Clusters, which allows SQL Server to integrate with Apache Spark and Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS). This enables the management of big data environments.
SQL Server 2019 allows for data virtualization with PolyBase, which means you can write T-SQL queries to access data without needing to move it. It has expanded support for additional data sources like Oracle, Teradata, and MongoDB.
Security is a strong focus in SQL Server 2019. Features like Always Encrypted with secure enclaves, Data Classification, and Certificate Management in SQL Server Configuration Manager are aimed at enhancing data security.
SQL Server 2019 introduced support for UTF-8 character encoding. This can result in storage savings and can be beneficial for applications that use UTF-8.
Accelerated Database Recovery
This feature aims to solve long-running recovery issues, making database recovery faster and more predictable.
Improved Performance Monitoring
SQL Server 2019 has added new features to Query Store, including wait statistics, custom capture policies, and more, to give you better insights into query performance.
SQL Server 2019 offers TempDB enhancements like pre-defined TempDB settings based on best practices and the ability to configure TempDB during setup, making it easier to manage.
SQL Server 2019 expanded its support for Linux platforms, including support for the latest versions of Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
Machine Learning Services
SQL Server 2019 includes built-in support for R and Python, allowing for a range of machine learning tasks to be performed directly within the SQL Server environment.
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Reason 2: Security
SQL Server has a strong focus on security features, including Transparent Data Encryption, Always Encrypted, and Row-Level Security, among others. This makes it a go-to choice for enterprises that prioritize data security.
SQL Server 2019 places a strong emphasis on security, offering a range of features designed to protect data and maintain the integrity of the database environment. Here are some of the key security features:
Always Encrypted with Secure Enclaves
This feature enhances the existing Always Encrypted technology by allowing computations on encrypted columns without revealing the data to the Database Engine. Secure enclaves act as trusted execution environments to perform these operations securely.
SQL Server 2019 introduces a built-in data classification feature that helps you identify and label columns containing sensitive data. This can be useful for compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR.
SQL Server Configuration Manager now includes a feature for managing certificates directly, making it easier to manage SSL/TLS certificates for encrypted connections.
Transparent Data Encryption (TDE)
While not new in SQL Server 2019, TDE continues to be a crucial feature for encrypting data at rest. It encrypts the entire database with minimal impact on performance.
This feature allows you to implement fine-grained access control over rows in a database table, ensuring that users can only access the data they are authorized to see.
Dynamic Data Masking
Dynamic Data Masking allows you to obscure sensitive information in a particular column, but still allows authorized users to view the actual data. This is useful for scenarios where you want to protect data from being viewed by unauthorized personnel but still need to use it in applications.
SQL Server 2019 includes enhanced auditing features, allowing for more granular auditing policies. This can be particularly useful for compliance and monitoring purposes.
SQL Server 2019 continues to support Windows Authentication and SQL Server Authentication. Additionally, it has improved its support for Azure Active Directory authentication, offering a more integrated experience for cloud-based deployments.
While this is more of an Azure SQL feature, it’s worth mentioning that firewall rules can be set up to restrict access to your SQL Server database, allowing only specific IP addresses to connect.
SQL Server 2019 allows for permissions to be set at the object level, including tables, views, and stored procedures, providing an additional layer of security.
These features collectively offer a robust security framework for protecting sensitive data and ensuring that your SQL Server environment is secure from various types of threats and vulnerabilities.
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Reason 3: Performance
The 2019 version includes performance improvements and optimizations that make it faster and more efficient than its predecessors.
SQL Server 2019 comes with several performance enhancements designed to improve query execution, data storage, and overall system responsiveness. Here are some key performance features:
Intelligent Query Processing
One of the standout features in SQL Server 2019 is Intelligent Query Processing (IQP), which aims to improve the speed and processing efficiency of queries. IQP includes features like scalar UDF inlining, table variable deferred compilation, and batch mode on rowstore, among others.
Accelerated Database Recovery
Accelerated Database Recovery (ADR) is designed to speed up database recovery times, making the system more resilient to failures and reducing the time required to roll back large operations.
Memory-Optimized TempDB Metadata
SQL Server 2019 allows for memory-optimized TempDB metadata, which can significantly improve the performance of workloads that make heavy use of TempDB by reducing page latch contention.
Improved In-Memory Database Features
The In-Memory OLTP engine has been enhanced to support more data types and to offer better scalability, making it more versatile for high-performance workloads.
Improved Columnstore Indexes
Columnstore indexes have been improved to offer better query performance and lower storage costs, particularly for analytics workloads.
Resource Governor for Disk-Based IO
The Resource Governor now allows you to set limits on disk-based IO, giving you more control over resource utilization and ensuring that critical workloads get the resources they need.
Query Store Enhancements
The Query Store feature, which allows for performance monitoring and troubleshooting, has been enhanced to include wait statistics, multiple plans, and other features that provide deeper insights into query performance.
PolyBase Performance Improvements
PolyBase, which allows for data virtualization across different database systems, has been optimized for better performance in SQL Server 2019.
Improved Backup Performance
SQL Server 2019 includes optimizations for backup operations, particularly for large databases, making the backup process faster and more efficient.
Support for Persistent Memory Devices
SQL Server 2019 adds support for persistent memory devices, providing a significant performance boost for certain types of workloads.
These performance features are aimed at making SQL Server 2019 faster, more efficient, and more scalable, catering to a wide range of workloads from OLTP to analytics. Would you like to know more about any specific performance feature?
Reason 4: Compatibility
SQL Server 2019 offers good compatibility with various platforms and languages, including support for Linux and Docker containers, which makes it versatile for different kinds of deployments.
SQL Server 2019 offers a wide range of compatibility features that make it versatile for different kinds of deployments and integrations. Here are some key aspects:
Operating System Compatibility
- Windows: SQL Server 2019 is compatible with Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2012 R2.
- Linux: SQL Server 2019 expanded its support for Linux platforms, including Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
Virtualization and Containers
- SQL Server 2019 supports deployment in Docker containers, making it easier to manage and scale in containerized environments.
- SQL Server 2019 is designed to be backward-compatible with earlier versions of SQL Server, although some deprecated features may not be supported.
- It supports a wide range of programming languages for application development, including .NET, Java, Python, R, and more.
Data Source Compatibility
- With PolyBase, SQL Server 2019 can connect to various external data sources like Oracle, Teradata, MongoDB, and even Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS).
Database Compatibility Levels
- SQL Server 2019 allows you to set database compatibility levels, enabling older applications to run without modification while still taking advantage of some of the newer database engine enhancements.
- SQL Server 2019 offers smooth integration with Azure services, allowing for hybrid cloud scenarios, Azure Active Directory authentication, and more.
Big Data and Analytics
- SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters allow for integration with Apache Spark and Hadoop, making it compatible with big data workloads.
- SQL Server 2019 supports ODBC, JDBC, and other client libraries, ensuring compatibility with a variety of platforms and programming languages.
- SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), Azure Data Studio, and other tooling options are fully compatible with SQL Server 2019, providing a range of options for database management.
- Tools like the Data Migration Assistant and the Database Experimentation Assistant can help assess the compatibility of your existing databases with SQL Server 2019.
Overall, SQL Server 2019 offers a broad range of compatibility options, making it a versatile choice for organizations with diverse requirements.
Reason 5: Community and Support
Being a product of Microsoft, SQL Server enjoys robust community support and a wide array of resources for troubleshooting and learning. Microsoft also provides extensive documentation and professional support for SQL Server.
The community and support ecosystem for SQL Server 2019 is robust and extensive, offering various resources for learning, troubleshooting, and professional development. Here are some key aspects:
Microsoft provides comprehensive documentation for SQL Server 2019, covering everything from installation and configuration to advanced features and best practices.
Forums and Online Communities
- Stack Overflow: A popular platform where developers ask and answer questions related to SQL Server.
- SQLServerCentral: A community dedicated to SQL Server, offering forums, articles, and scripts.
- Reddit: Subreddits like r/SQLServer and r/SQL provide a place for discussions and troubleshooting.
Social Media and Blogs
Experts and enthusiasts often share tips, tricks, and updates on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and personal blogs. Microsoft also maintains a SQL Server blog with updates and tutorials.
Webinars and Online Courses
There are numerous webinars, online courses, and tutorials available that cover SQL Server 2019. Websites like Pluralsight, Udemy, and Coursera offer courses ranging from beginner to advanced levels.
User Groups and Conferences
- PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server): Offers local user groups, virtual groups, and annual conferences.
- SQL Saturdays: Free, one-day training events held worldwide.
Books and Academic Resources
Several books covering SQL Server 2019 are available, ranging from beginner guides to specialized topics like performance tuning, security, and business intelligence.
- TechNet: A Microsoft platform offering articles, forums, and best practices.
- Microsoft Support: Offers professional support services, including troubleshooting and performance optimization.
- Azure Support: For hybrid or cloud deployments, Azure offers additional support resources.
Microsoft and the community contribute to various GitHub repositories that offer sample code, tools, and extensions for SQL Server 2019.
Consultancies and Third-Party Services
Many consultancies specialize in SQL Server deployments, offering services like performance tuning, security audits, and migration assistance.
Training and Certification
Microsoft offers official certifications for SQL Server, and there are various other platforms where you can get certified skills in SQL Server 2019.
The strong community and support framework make SQL Server 2019 a reliable choice for organizations of all sizes, ensuring that help is readily available when needed.
Reason 6: Updates and Patches
Microsoft regularly releases updates and patches to fix any security vulnerabilities and to improve performance, ensuring that the software remains up-to-date.
SQL Server 2019 receives regular updates and patches from Microsoft to address various issues such as security vulnerabilities, performance improvements, and bug fixes. These updates are categorized into different types:
Cumulative Updates (CUs)
Cumulative Updates are the primary means of delivering hotfixes and improvements. These updates include all the fixes from previous CUs, so you only need to install the latest CU to get all the updates.
Security updates are released to address specific vulnerabilities. These are often released on Microsoft’s “Patch Tuesday,” which is the second Tuesday of each month, but can also be released as needed for critical issues.
As of SQL Server 2017, Microsoft has moved away from delivering Service Packs and focuses on CUs. However, if any major changes or features are to be introduced, they could potentially be delivered in a Service Pack.
Hotfixes are quick fixes for specific issues and are generally released between CUs. They are usually meant for urgent situations where a specific problem needs immediate attention.
Feature Packs are collections of standalone install packages that provide additional value for SQL Server. They typically include things like Data Quality Services, Master Data Services, or other add-ons.
SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) Updates
SSMS, the primary management interface for SQL Server, also receives its own updates independently of SQL Server. These updates often include usability improvements, new features, and bug fixes.
For SQL Server instances running on Azure, updates are generally managed by Microsoft, ensuring that your databases are always running the latest, most secure version of SQL Server.
- Windows Update: For smaller installations or test environments, updates can be delivered through Windows Update.
- Microsoft Update Catalog: For manual installations, updates can be downloaded from the Microsoft Update Catalog.
- Microsoft Download Center: Some updates and feature packs are available directly from the Microsoft Download Center.
It’s essential to keep in mind the support lifecycle of your SQL Server version. SQL Server 2019 is expected to have extended support until January 8, 2030, which means it will continue to receive critical security updates until then.
Keeping your SQL Server 2019 instance up-to-date is crucial for maintaining a secure, stable, and high-performing database environment.
However, the technology landscape is constantly evolving, and newer versions or alternative technologies could potentially overshadow SQL Server 2019 in the future. Organizations often assess their specific needs and the available features to decide whether it’s the right solution for them.
Thought-Provoking Questions and Insights
- Upgrade or Migrate: Given that SQL Server 2019 will have extended support until 2030, would it make sense for your organization to continue using it or consider migrating to a newer version or a different platform?
- Feature Set: Are the features offered in SQL Server 2019 sufficient for your current and future projects, or do you require capabilities that are only available in newer versions or alternative platforms?
- Cost-Benefit Analysis: Have you considered the costs associated with upgrading to a newer version versus the benefits of sticking with a version that still has several years of extended support left?
SQL Server 2019 vs SQL Server 2022: Community Insights
The discussion on SQLServerCentral focuses on whether to upgrade to SQL Server 2019 or 2022. The general consensus leans towards SQL Server 2022 for several reasons:
- Extended Support: SQL Server 2019 has extended support until January 8, 2030, while SQL Server 2022 has it until January 11, 2033. This longer support life for SQL Server 2022 is seen as a significant advantage.
- Feature Set: SQL Server 2022 is considered to have all the features of SQL Server 2019, plus more. Therefore, if you’re going through the upgrade process anyway, the community suggests opting for the latest version.
- Stability and Bugs: Some users pointed out that while SQL Server 2019 had its share of bugs and issues, it’s not necessarily worse than any other new release. The discussion also touched on the fact that Microsoft has been running SQL Server 2022 on Azure for months before its official release, suggesting a level of stability.
- Compliance and Patch Management: There was a note of caution about dealing with breaking changes, especially in environments with strict compliance requirements. However, the general sentiment was that these issues are part and parcel of any software and not specific to SQL Server 2019 or 2022.
Thought-Provoking Questions and Insights
- Risk vs. Reward: Given the community’s leaning towards SQL Server 2022, would the additional features and extended support outweigh the risks associated with upgrading to a newer version?
- Compliance and Support: If your organization has strict compliance requirements, how would the extended support dates for SQL Server 2019 and 2022 influence your decision?
- Future-Proofing: Are you more inclined to stick with a version that is considered stable and well-tested, or are you looking to future-proof your systems with the latest features and extended support?
SQL Server 2019 remains a relevant and robust database management system, offering a wide array of features that cater to various data management and business intelligence needs. Its strong focus on security, performance enhancements, and compatibility with different platforms and languages make it a versatile choice for organizations of all sizes.
The software is backed by a robust community and extensive support ecosystem, providing numerous resources for learning, troubleshooting, and professional development. Microsoft’s commitment to regularly releasing updates and patches ensures that SQL Server 2019 stays up-to-date with the latest security and performance improvements.
Moreover, its extended support until January 8, 2030, provides a long runway for organizations to continue using it while planning for future upgrades or migrations. The general sentiment in the community also suggests that while newer versions like SQL Server 2022 offer additional features and longer support, SQL Server 2019 still holds its ground as a reliable and capable database solution.
Given these factors, SQL Server 2019 continues to be a relevant choice for both existing and new database projects, offering a balanced mix of advanced features, security, and performance.