Could Microsoft's SQL Server 2016 Be Your Ticket to the Big TIme?

Big Data concept charts and graphs

Not only is Microsoft's SQL Server grabbing market- and mindshare around the world — it's the fastest growing DBMS platform in the business world. SQL Server is still not yet close to overtaking longtime market leader Oracle, but Microsoft is aggressively promoting the idea that items that used to be add-ins or extensions to database technology should be included in basic database offerings.


That's the impetus of current promotional efforts driving the forthcoming release of SQL Server 2016. A preview of Release Candidate 1 (a "release candidate" is a beta version that could become a final product) was announced at the company's Build developer conference last week.


"Everything built in" makes for a pretty catchy motto, and it looks like Microsoft isn't just blowing smoke. Based on what's been revealed about the upcoming release so far, the software giant is serious about supporting its potentially outrageous claim of "everything."


A quick look at the tiles graphic from Microsoft's Build materials reveals a checklist of capabilities that are desirable from any database environment, but which most buyers could only obtain in the past as cost-extra add-ons or special features. Microsoft appears to be moving toward a more inclusive vision of the database platform.


The company is already making its pitch to enterprise users who've grown weary of purchasing needed features a la carte. The much-preferred alternative, in Microsoft's view, is for those frustrated users to pick up and run with SQL Server 2016 and its business-ready built-in capabilities.


And because skills and knowledge in the areas of business intelligence, data warehousing and data analytics (aka Big Data, Data Science, and so forth) are in such incredible demand right now, there's a golden opportunity in the making for IT professionals with a database bent. Folks who hitch their wagons to the SQL Server star now may be in line for career enhancement opportunities down the road.


A quick look at the MS SQL Server certifications page shows two MCSA and two MCSE credentials currently available. One of them targets SQL Server 2008. Since that one is focused on a product that will shortly be two versions back in the SQL Server lineup, it does not represent a truly viable target for aspiring SQL Server standouts.


In fact, I expect this credential to retire as soon as the new SQL Server version makes its debut later this year (and following the Microsoft Learning link to the 2008 credential actually leads to its successor credential anyway). The other three credentials include the MCSA: SQL Server that defines the base level certification for the platform, plus the MCSE: Data Platform, which focuses in on working with databases and designing database solutions.


Finally, there's the MCSE: Business Intelligence credential, which turns instead to implementing data models and reports and designing BI solutions with SQL Server.


Microsoft has already said that, going forward, it will avoid tying these credentials to specific SQL Server versions. Instead, Microsoft Learning will keep updating them to stay in line with whatever the company's latest and greatest SQL Server version happens to be. That's why I expect that, within 6 months of the release of SQL Server 2016, all three of the aforementioned credentials will be given an extensive makeover.


Ed Tittel SQL Server 2016


It's not unreasonable to expect that much of this catching up will entail covering the new built-in capabilities now being touted in advance of SQL Server 2016's eventual debut. I also wouldn't be surprised to see additional MCSE variants on SQL Server added to the collection.


These new credentials would perhaps focus on the likes of data warehousing and analytics/data Science per se, while making sure the other items on the platform itself and Business Intelligence also get a substantial refresh.


One thing's for sure: SQL Server looks like a great technology and platform certification bet for IT professionals to make (and keep current). It should be very interesting indeed to see how all this goes over in the marketplace.


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About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.