Analytics Platform System (APS) AU4 released

The Analytics Platform System (APS), which is a renaming of the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), has just released an appliance update (AU4), which is sort of like a service pack, except that it includes many new features.  Below is what is new in this release:

AU4 continues to improve how SQL Server customers can migrate to APS and existing customers can upgrade by enhancing T-SQL Compatibility, adding support for next generation hardware from our IHV partners (Dell, Quanta, and HP), improved data return rates to power advanced analytics scenarios, and workload level upgrades reducing upgrade durations by 50%.  These features combine to offer additional functionality, reliability, and compatibility for appliance customers while reducing the downtime when moving to AU4.

What’s New in the Release:

TSQL compatibility improvements to reduce migration friction from SQL SMP

  • Implements scalar user defined functions – CREATE/DROP FUNCTION statements
  • Implements PIVOT/UNPIVOT relational operators
  • Introduce Round Robin as a third table type for hybrid performance
  • Query plan stability to favor hash joins over nested loop joins in DW scenarios
  • Addition of a new DBCC command – DBCC DROPCLEANBUFFERS
  • Merged PDW Migration Advisor and Migration Utility into a single utility for DDL validation and creation with rules and best practices integration

Performance Improvement

  • 1.5x data return rate improvement for SELECT * queries improves external analytics (SAS, R) integration

Polybase/Hadoop Enhancements

  • Enabled Cloudera 5.1 and Hortonworks Data Platform 2.1 and 2.2 support
  • Extended partial aggregate pushdowns into Hadoop
  • Add Unit for HDInsight regions within the appliance

Install, Upgrade, and Servicing Improvements

  • Reduces end-to-end upgrade time from AU3 to AU4 by 50%
  • Top hitter upgrade reliability fixes
  • Platform update to SQL Server CU8 for latest stability and reliability improvements
  • Integrated Windows Server patches for minimize patching workflows
  • Upgrade support for appliances with HDInsight regions
  • Skip level upgrade support from previous versions to enable direct upgrades to AU4

Next Generation Hardware

  • Dell, Quanta, and HP (Gen9) next generation server support
    • 2x Intel Haswell Processors, 256 GB (16x16Gb) 2133MHz memory
  • Updated HP 5900 series switches including High Availability improvements
  • Mixed hardware version support allows extended appliance lifetime and expandability

More info:

APS AU4 Feature Review: 1.5x data return rate improvement

Analytics Platform System Appliance Update 4 Documentation and Client Tools

About James Serra

James is a big data and data warehousing solution architect at Microsoft. Previously he was an independent consultant working as a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence architect and developer. He is a prior SQL Server MVP with over 25 years of IT experience.
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