What’s New in SQL Server 2012

What's New in SQL Server 2012

In April 2012, Microsoft announced the release of SQL Server 2012.  A few months back, in the last quarter of 2011, Microsoft released SQL Server 2012 RC version, the release candidate Microsoft deems to be ready for production.

So what’s new with SQL Server 2012?  Well, there are a lot of enhanced and new features in the SQL Server 2012 editions. But generally speaking, the following features make the 2012 edition a whole lot better than the previous versions.

  • Web Development and Business Intelligence Enhancements. While business intelligence features were upgraded in SQL Server 2008 R2, Microsoft really improved Excel PowerPivot by adding more drill and KPI through.
  • The Analysis Services will also sport a new feature: Business Intelligence Semantic Model, a three-layer standard that brings together data access, business logic and data model.  The new feature will entail a lot of improvement in the Reporting Services, SharePoint Insights and Excel.  The BISM centralizes all BI applications: reporting, analysis, scorecards and dashboards.
  • Master Data Services and SQL Server Data Quality Services are new or improved tools for data integration and management that deliver consistent, credible data at the right time.
  • SQL Server AlwaysOn. A high availability solution that increases application availability while also lowering total cost of ownership and making it easier to use.
  • A new web-based data presentation and visualization feature called Power View.  Power View, formerly known as Project Crescent, can help business owners and decision makers get better insights fast and easy.
  • The new SQL Server Data Tools bring together SQL Azure development and SQL server.
  • Better full text searching.

Don Jones' Top 3 SQL Server 2012 Features

New features, no matter how attractive they are, are no guarantee that an upgrade is necessary.  But SQL Server 2012 is an exception.

Using SQL Server makes sense financially, with the benefits outweighing the costs.  Not only that, it leads to higher productivity, cost savings and a better working environment for IT professionals in the enterprise.

A Forrester Research study commissioned by Microsoft reveals that SQL Server 2012 has a payback period of only about a year, with a risk adjusted return on investment of 149%.  What’s more, cash flow from the use of SQL Server 2012 would be positive at Year 1 and all through the succeeding years.


The same study also highlighted the following benefits of using SQL Server 2012:

  1. Increased productivity for systems engineers and database administrators due to time savings, better security and higher data quality.
  2. Increased productivity for application developers due to higher availability, improved workflow, and also due to the improvements incorporated with the new SQL Server.
  3. Savings from service level agreement penalties brought about by data loss or outages.  This is also a good way to protect the business’ reputation.
  4. Self-service business intelligence and very powerful business intelligence reports.

There are currently three main flavors of SQL Server 2012:

  • Enterprise
  • Business Intelligence
  • Standard

The Enterprise Edition is perfect if you use SQL Server 2012 for mission critical apps and data warehousing.  This edition allows you to run demanding application workloads fast, easily and securely.

This means that Big Data does not have to be a headache.

The AlwaysOn feature allows your server to be available and accessible when needed.  What’s more, you get a lot of free tools and service offerings.

The Business Intelligence Edition gives you the ability to have self-service business intelligence, because it allows you to:

  • Visualize and explore data at lightning speed.
  • Transform business intelligence applications created by end users into IT-managed solutions.
  • Deploy or create scalable analytics and reporting.
  • Get consistent and credible data.

The Standard Edition is for those companies that do not need to run, store or manage big data in their servers.  With the Standard Edition, you get basic features for reporting, analytics and database capabilities.

A quick comparison on the features of these three editions:

SQL Edition Comparison

Features Enterprise BI Standard
Maximum Number of Cores OS Max 16 Cores for DB OS Max-AS&RS
16 Cores
Basic OLTP x x x
Programmability x x x
Manageability x x x
Basic High Availability x x x
Basic Corporate BI x x x
Basic Data Integration x x x
Self-Service Business Intelligence x x
Advanced Corporate BI x x
Enterprise Data Management x x
Advanced Data Integration x
Advanced Security x
Data Warehousing x
Advanced High Availability x

Recommended Hardware and Software Specifications

Microsoft has come out with a list of specifications needed to install and run SQL Server 2012.

You would need:

  1. More than 3.6 gigabytes of free space on your hard drive.
  2. 64-bit:
    Intel Xeon (supported by Intel EM64T), AMD Athlon 64, AMD Opteron, or Intel Pentium IV (supported by EM64T with at least 2.0 GHz)
  3. 32-bit
    Compatible with Pentium III (at least 2.0 GHz)
  4. Recommended RAM: At least 2 gigabytes or whatever is the highest supported.

Software you need to install before installing SQL Server 2012

Other tips:

  1. Use NTFS file system.
    While SQL Server 2012 works on FAT32 systems, for this application it is not recommended.  You should also avoid compressed or mapped drives.
  2. Install the no-reboot package from Microsoft.
    This is typically bundled in with Windows 7 SP1, but you can download the package here: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=198092.

Interested in trying out SQL Server 2012?  Then be sure to check out the release notes for some installation instructions and tips from Microsoft itself.

Get the Free SQL Server 2012 e-Book

Microsoft has created a document that aims to walk you through the several features of SQL Server 2012 along with a comprehensive discussion on new features and enhancements for this version, as well as discussion on tools that are no longer available.

Download the e-book.


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