Expert Roundtable: The ROI on SQL Server 2016

1. On a scale of 1-10, how vital is upgrading to 2016 in your opinion?

Denny: 9-10. This release is probably the biggest release we’ve seen since SQL Server 2005. Every system upgraded will benefit; from the improvements in Clustered ColumnStore, to increased throughput in Always On Availability Groups, to the enhancements of In Memory OLTP, not to mention the new security features. Watch the SQL Server 2016 training kit videos which Microsoft just released which feature our own Joey D’Antoni.

Joey: 7. There are a lot of other challenges (mainly with 3rd party applications), but if the customer has specific requirements and SQL Server 2016 meets them, the benefits are tremendous.

Kerry: 6. A lot depends on the version deployed, but SQL Server 2005 just went off support and 2008/R2 isn’t far behind. Third party application support may make an upgrade difficult in the near-term, but new features and performance enhancements make this a very worthwhile upgrade.

2. If a CTO is trying to decide whether to upgrade, any recommendations on how to evaluate the investment?

Denny: Companies that have been looking for ways to archive data out of their SQL Server database without code change to the application have features available to them in the Stretch Database feature. Companies looking to implement database encryption with little to no code change should be looking at Always Encrypted. These can be implemented with relatively little cost once SQL Server 2016 is deployed, offering a huge ROI.

Joey: Biggest thing is existing licensing agreements. If they have software assurance, there is no direct cost associated with the migration. Otherwise, it’s a matter of whether the applications they are using can support it so they can take advantage of some the new features.

Kerry: SQL Server 2016 is a worthwhile upgrade for any environment. The older the version(s) currently deployed, the more compelling the upgrade is, as that’s where the biggest improvements in raw performance of the database engine and increased feature availability will be felt.

3. Outside of DBA’s, what other departments are likely to experience substantial ROI with this upgrade?

Denny: Reporting teams will get great ROI with Clustered ColumnStore in SQL Server, especially those that don’t have ColumnStore indexes. General business departments will get better ROI through better uptime so they can services customers better and faster.

Joey: There is a tremendous amount of added value in the Business Intelligence side of things. SQL Server Reporting Services gets major upgrades and Enterprise Edition supports mobile reporting, which is beneficial to any end users of business reporting applications.

Kerry: Any department that utilizes SQL Server directly or applications that rely on it will be able to glean good ROI, as line-of-business applications will see an increase in performance simply because SQL Server 2016 just runs faster.

4. And now for the motherlode: how much is this going to cost, and are there any tips on what a company can do to make the licensing cheaper?

Denny: Customers that have Software Assurance are able to upgrade to SQL Server 2016 for free. Those that have an Enterprise Agreement for SQL Server may have credits on their Enterprise Agreement which can be used to help pay for consulting time to assist with those migrations.

Joey: You can get some full details on SQL 2016 licensing in long form on my blog.

Kerry: With Microsoft solidifying its software release cycle(s), Software Assurance is probably the best deal it’s ever been for companies interested in staying up-to-date and having the most flexible licensing structure.

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