Last week we saw the release of SQL Server 2019 CTP 2.5, with enhancements for Big data clusterrs and a Java language SDK for SQL Server. This is the 6th public release of the next version, and one that's coming at an increasing rate. If you look at the cadence, there was a release in September, then November, then December, about once a month. A long delay at the beginning of the year, but now 3 releases in a month and a half, which lead me to think that they're getting close to being done with features. I have no idea when the product will release, and I do think that //build/ is a little too close, but I do think that it will release in the next few months.
For fun, I'll send someone this mug (or a fun one of your choice) if you can guess which day the new version will release. Drop a note in the discussion with your guess.
For SQL Server 2017, we had seven CTPs and 2 RCs. For SQL Server 2016, we had 11 CTPs and 4 RCs. SQL Server 2014, I only had 2 CTPs tracked, though I think this was barely a major release. You can flip back through our build lists and check, but there has been both an increase in the pace of CTP/RC release as well as an increasing volume through the versions. I think this is a direct result of an better engineering process that has adopted DevOps to ensure the release of software is easier than ever.
I have to admit I'm torn on this. There is some effort to download and update software, and at times these versions have to be uninstalled to install a new version. That makes sense, and I certainly don't want them spending time ensuring they can upgrade between CTPs if they can fix some bugs instead. Even if i have time to install the software and check a few things, I often don't want to then recheck a number of things that used to work, and like many people, I probably just check one or two new things. Or if I haven't finished checking something from a previous CTP, I might stick with that version.
This is one place that I think containers can really change the world. I can get the updated software without effort. Other than the download, starting a CTP 2.5 image is no different than starting a CTP 2.4 image. There is still a challenge with data files, but in a very rapdily changing world, we want to be able to upgrade quickly. With the changes made with CUs to allow roll forward and roll back, containers make even more sense. Stop one container, start a new one, same IP, same name, same data, new version of binaries. Upgrade or downgrade.
I'm both excited and intimidated by the new version. There are lots of enhancements that are going to make this a new generation of the platform, but as developers and customers request the use of new features, I'm going to be scrambling to better learn and understand some of the tricks I need to get the system to run well. Of course, with Intelligent Query Processing, maybe I'll have a bit more free time away from some of the poor code that I'm stuck running.