PASS Summit 2019 and SQL Server 2019

The annual PASS Summit, the industry’s largest gathering of SQL Server professionals, hosted more than 4,000 attendees in Seattle recently recently. PASS ( has grown to more than 300 local chapters around the world, and its 1,000th SQL Saturday will likely be held sometime in early 2020. The opening keynote by Rohan Kumar, corporate vice president of data and AI at Microsoft, focused on the achievements and growth of SQL Server in the marketplace, as well as on the new features and capabilities now available in the public release of SQL Server 2019. (Details about the keynote are available at

Salient details presented in the keynote include the fact that 98% of Fortune 100 companies run production workloads on SQL Server, 48% of all CPU cores running database workloads run SQL Server, SQL Server is the only database that is available on all major cloud platforms, there are now more than 5 million database instances running on Azure SQL DB, and more than 1 million databases migrated to Azure SQL DB from other databases. In addition, more than 7,000 customers are running on Azure SQL DB Serverless, there have been more than 30 million downloads of SQL Server 2017, and SQL Server 2019 has seen 50% more adoption than SQL Server 2017.

With edge computing on the rise, Microsoft is serious about making Azure SQL Database Edge, which is now available in public preview, a player in this space (see the August 2019 installment of this column). Analysts are expecting cloud and edge computing to produce 175 zettabytes of data by 2025 and for the world to see over 50 billion connected devices by 2030. Clearly, edge computing is on the rise. Azure SQL Database Edge runs on ARM and Intel CPUs and consumes only 320MB (yes, that’s megabytes) to run on ARM processors, including multitudes of IoT devices and even tiny Raspberry Pi devices. Speaking of small and cheap, Azure SQL Database Serverless is also now in public preview.

SQL Server has long held first place in general security, but it continues its record of innovation with the introduction of Always Encrypted with secure enclaves, which provides powerful round-the-clock encryption of sensitive data without negatively impacting regular database operations. Additional new security features include Data Classification and Vulnerability Assessment.

SQL Server 2019 now supports multiple coding hooks into the database engine. We’ve had Transact-SQL since the inception of SQL Server and have long had SQLCLR for C/C++ and C# and .NET languages within SQL Server stored procedures. Microsoft further added R in SQL Server 2016, Python in SQL Server 2017, and lots more in SQL Server 2019, including Java, Ruby, Node.js, and PHP. SQL Server 2019 now supports processing on Spark, HDFS, and similar computing cluster frameworks.

Speaking of the database engine, the SQL Server development team continues to push for even better performance capabilities. For example, SQL Server 2019 has a new recovery feature called Accelerated Database Recovery, which enables the recovery of massive multi-terabyte databases in mere seconds to minutes. In addition, improvements to the query optimizer, through features, such as Intelligent Query processing, fixes to Scalar UDFs available without any changes to your code, and further improvements to the In-Memory OLTP feature set enable SQL Server to be a record-breaker. For example, Azure SQL Data Warehouse recently broke the TPC-H benchmark world record on a 30TB database by processing more than 1 trillion rows in less than 2 minutes over the 22 SQL transactions in the benchmark. While the new innovations, such as the performance and scalability features provided in Azure SQL Database Hyperscale, are amazingly strong, they are not the end of the story. If you like other open source databases, you’ll see those innovations arrive on your favorite non-SQL Server data platform too. For example, Azure PostgreSQL DB Hyperscale is now available in public preview.

Unfortunately, I’ve run out of space, but there are several important announcements I haven’t yet covered, including details of new Azure Hybrid feature sets such as Azure Stack and Azure Arc. I hope to cover those in greater detail in a future column. Meanwhile, you can see Rohan Kumar’s keynote session and a variety of technical sessions and interviews from the PASS Summit conference at Enjoy!