Digital business mandate: Modernize your data estate

Digital business is hitting an inflection point. Nearly nine out of 10 (88%) IT and business leaders agree that data and analytics have the potential to fundamentally change the way their company does business over the next three years, according to Foundry’s 2022 Data & Analytics study. Is your organization seizing this moment of opportunity?

Fundamental change begins with a strong foundation for collecting, storing, managing, and analyzing data. “Data has become the most critical asset of any company,” says Ajay Jagannathan, Principal Group Program Manager at Microsoft for Azure SQL Database and SQL Server. “But to capture value from it, you need to modernize your data estate.”

Enterprise environments have grown increasingly complex, with infrastructure, applications, and workloads deployed both on premises and in the cloud. This hybrid IT model, along with rapidly growing volumes and types of data, have exacerbated long-running “data silo” challenges.

“The disparity of where data lives makes accessing the data when you need it a huge problem,” says Bob Ward, Principal Architect for the Microsoft Azure Data Team.

To reduce the hurdles for organizations moving data between on-premises and cloud databases, Microsoft has a consistent code base of SQL Server for both on-premises and Azure versions. This creates compatibility and helps companies add capacity for seasonal business surges, especially when combined with the pay-as-you-go licensing option now available for SQL Server.

Improved visibility and data management

With a modern data-management foundation in place with SQL Server 2022, organizations can get better visibility and management of their data estate with additional Microsoft solutions such as Azure Arc, which extends Azure capabilities across multi-cloud, on-premises, and edge environments, unifying management with familiar tools for a consistent experience [1]. To govern data across on-premises, multi-cloud and SaaS environments, Microsoft Purview automates data discovery, cataloging, mapping, and lineage tracking, all of which are very useful for complying with regulations like GDPR and CCPA.

Because not all organizations run only SQL Server, Microsoft’s PolyBase data virtualization feature uses T-SQL to allow data queries across multiple data sources, including Oracle, Teradata, MongoDB, Hadoop clusters, Cosmos DB, S3-compatible object storage, as well as SQL Server.

Advanced analytics

SQL Server 2022 also supports advanced analytics capabilities to help organizations extract more value from their data. With traditional databases, capturing business intelligence (BI) insights meant subjecting data to cumbersome ETL processes before putting it into a data warehouse, says Jagannathan. Azure Synapse Link for SQL Server 2022, he says, lets data teams replace ETL processes with real-time replication to deliver faster analytics and insights. Case in point: Mediterranean Shipping Company is optimizing container shipments across its 700 vessels with near-real-time analytics thanks to Synapse Link.

Robust security to ensure data integrity

For many companies, the path to change is obstructed by security demands, particularly in protecting the integrity of their supply chain. Ledger for SQL Server 2022 uses cryptographic verification to create a tamper-proof record without the cost, complexity, and performance hit of blockchain technology. Lenovo is using Ledger for SQL Server in Azure to prove a computer’s data has remained unmodified throughout the manufacturing process.

Accelerated performance

Finally, thanks to the longstanding partnership between Microsoft and Intel, SQL Server 2022 takes advantage of Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel® AVX-512) and Intel® QuickAssist Technology (QAT) hardware acceleration, both available on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors. The use of Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel® AVX-512) speeds up analytics queries for data warehouses and significantly reduces time to insights. With Intel® QuickAssist Technology (QAT) hardware acceleration, SQL Server 2022 accelerates database backup using compression technology. This reduction in backup times eliminates or significantly reduces overall downtime for backups, results in minimal impact to production workloads, reduces storage footprint, and improves overall TCO.

“Intel really understands database technology,” says Ward. “So they can come to us and say, we have this technology and we know SQL Server could benefit from it. It’s amazing to work with them so closely as they build these innovations.”

The next few years will bring IT leaders face-to-face with make-or-break digital business challenges. But with the help of SQL Server 2022, those challenges can quickly evolve into game-changing opportunities.

[1] For all Azure-connected features of SQL Server 2022, customers can optionally enable these capabilities based on business requirements.