SQLServerCentral Article

Learning SQL Server 2016


This page is an attempt to list all the new features in SQL Server 2016 and give data professionals a place to begin learning about what has changed. Each of the topics below is described with a link to another page that contains various resources that can help you learn more about that particular topic.

If you find errors or ommissions for the topic list, please leave a comment on this article. If any of the specific topics has broken or missing links, please leave a comment on those pages.

The title for each section is the link to another page.

The list of features we've compiled are:

Columnstore Indexes

SQL Server 2016 has new improvements for columnstore indexes including updateable nonclustered columnstore indexes, columnstore indexes on in-memory tables, and many more. 

This technology was released in SQL Server 2012, and has been improved with each version. There are fewer limitations and more features with each evolution.

See the Columnstore Index links

In-Memory OLTP

Improvements have been made in SQL Server 2016 to the In-Memory OLTP tables and reducing limitations.

This technology was originally code-named "Hekaton" as the goal was to improve performance 100x. The technology was based on MIcrosoft research into in-memory databases and was first released in SQL Server 2014.

See the In-Memory OLTP links.

Live Query Statistics

Live Query Statistics allow you to view the live query statistics of an active query, providing real time insights.

See the Live Query Statistics links.

Query Store

The Query Store is designed to give DBAs insight into query plan choice and help with performance issues.

See the Query Store links.

Temporal Tables

A temporal table is a table that provides a view of the data of a table at a point in time. This allows you to look at the historical view of a table at a point in time in the past.

See the Temporal Tables links.

Backup to Azure

The Backup to Azure feature is designed to allow you to take a backup of your on-premises database directly to Azure blog storage.

See the Backup to Azure links.

Managed Backup

The Managed Backup feature is designed to automate your backups to Azure Blob Storage.

See the Managed Backup links.

Multiple TempDB Files

In SQL Server 2016, we have the ability to setup multiple tempdb files directly from setup.

See the Multiple TempDB Files links.


The FOR JSON clause can be added to a SELECT statement to return JSON formatted results to client applications.

See the FOR JSON links.

Always Encrypted

Always Encrypted is useful when the client cannot trust the server and wants to ensure only encrypted data is stored and manipulated on the server.

See the Always Encrypted links.


Polybase allows a SQL Server use to access data stored in Hadoop using T-SQL.

See the Polybase links.

Stretch Database

Stretch Database allows you to store parts of a table in the Azure SQL Database for archival purposes. The database automatically moves rows meeting some criteria to Azure and offloads computation to the Azure cloud.

Row-Level Security

Row-Level Security (RLS) has been available in Azure for a few months, but it is coming to SQL Server 2016. This allows you us define a function that can be used as criteria in queries for determining if users can access particular rows of data.

Dynamic Data Masking

Dynamic Data Masking is a feature in SQL Server 2016 that is designed to return a custom mask of information for sensitve data in columns.


AlwaysOn is a suite of technologies that provide High Availability (HA) and Disaster Recovery (DR) capabilities for SQL Server. These technologies include Failover Clustered Instances (FCI) and Availability Groups (AG). There is no AlwaysOn technology by itself.

This was first introduced in SQL Server 2012 and has continued to be enhanced in future versions.

See AlwaysOn links.


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