SQL Server 2014 Service Pack 2 Cumulative Update 4

Microsoft has released SQL Server 2014 Service Pack 2 Cumulative Update 4, which is Build 12.0.5540.0. There are 30 hotfixes in the public fix list. In my opinion, you should be on the SP2 branch by now. If you have not made that move, you should be making plans to get on SP2 as soon as possible.

They have also released SQL Server 2014 Service Pack 1 Cumulative Update 11, which is Build 12.0.4502.0. There are 15 hotfixes in the public fix list for this CU.

There is no corresponding CU for the RTM branch, since SQL Server 2014 RTM is no longer a supported Service Pack level.

SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 1 and SQL Server 2016 RTM CU3

Microsoft has released SQL Server 2016 RTM CU3 (Build 13.0.2186.6), with 31 fixes in the public fix list. They have also released SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 1 (Build 13.0.4001.0).

As they previously did for SQL Server 2014 SP2, Microsoft has managed to include all of the hotfixes from the latest SQL Server 2016 RTM CU3 in SQL Server 2016 SP1 RTM, including the very recent security fixes in Security Update MS16-136, so there is no need to wait for a subsequent SP1 CU to get caught up with the latest fixes from the RTM branch.

The Microsoft SQL Server Release Services Blog has a lot more detail about SQL Server 2016 SP1 here. The Data Platform blog has more detail about SP1 feature improvements here.

Given all of the feature changes and other useful improvements in SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 1 (on top of all of the hotfixes), it is almost a no-brainer to move to SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 1 as soon as you can do your testing, and plan and implement your deployment.

This is also a good time for organizations that are running down-level versions of SQL Server Standard Edition to seriously consider upgrading to SQL Server 2016 Standard Edition (preferably on new hardware, running Windows Server 2016).

Major Changes for SQL Server 2016 Standard Edition

At today’s Connect() event, Microsoft announced some pretty major changes for SQL Server 2016 Standard Edition, which are implemented in SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 1 (which was also released today). Many very useful SQL Server features that were previously only available in Enterprise Edition will now be available in Standard Edition (and also in Web Edition and even Express Edition).

These include Row-level security, Dynamic Data Masking, Change Data Capture(*), Database Snapsnots, Columnstore indexes, Table Partitioning, Data Compression, Multiple Filestream containers, In-Memory OLTP, Always Encrypted, Distributed Partitioned Views, Polybase, and Fine grained Auditing.

There are some scalability limits for some of these features running on Standard or Web/Express Edition. For example, In-Memory OLTP is limited to 1/4 of the Edition buffer pool memory limit. Columnstore is also limited to 1/4 of the Edition buffer pool memory limit. These feature memory limits are in addition to the buffer pool limit for each edition.

In Standard Edition, Columnstore is limited to 2 DOP, and in Web/Express is limited to 1 DOP. Polybase worker compute nodes can be deployed on Standard, Web, and Express Editions, but still requires Enterprise Edition for the head node to scale out with (multiple worker compute nodes).

Keep in mind that you will need SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 1, to get these new features (and many other nice improvements, as detailed here).

The primary goal here is to provide application developers with an easy way to program an application in the same way using all of the application features of SQL Server 2016, regardless of which edition of SQL Server 2016 that the application may eventually be deployed on.

This is going to make it much easier for ISVs to use these features without requiring their customers to use Enterprise Edition. They will be able to simplify their deployment scripts by not having to check the Edition of SQL Server before they run DDL statements to create database objects. This is a very welcome development that should encourage many more organizations to move to SQL Server 2016.

Once you have an application using SQL Server 2016 Standard Edition, you can just do an Edition Upgrade to Enterprise Edition to get even more scalability and performance, taking advantage of the higher license limits in Enterprise Edition. You will also get the intrinsic performance benefits that are present in Enterprise Edition. Microsoft should consider publicizing some of these performance differences between Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition.

Note: Change Data Capture won’t be available in Express Edition, since it does not have SQL Server Agent.