Analytics Platform System (APS) AU6 released

Better late than never: The Analytics Platform System (APS), which is a renaming of the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), released an appliance update (AU6) about a year ago, and I missed the announcement.  Below is what is new in this release, also called APS 2016.  APS is alive and well and there will be another AU next calendar year:

Microsoft is pleased to announce that the appliance update, Analytics Platform System (APS) 2016, has been released to manufacturing and is now generally available.  APS is Microsoft’s scale-out Massively Parallel Processing fully integrated system for data warehouse specific workloads.

This appliance update builds on the SQL Server 2016 release as a foundation to bring you many value-added features.  APS 2016 offers additional language coverage to support migrations from SQL Server and other platforms.  It also features improved security for hybrid scenarios and the latest security and bug fixes through new firmware and driver updates.

SQL Server 2016

APS 2016 runs on the latest SQL Server 2016 release and now uses the default database compatibility level 130 which can support improved query performance.  SQL Server 2016 allows APS to offer features such as secondary index support for CCI tables and PolyBase Kerberos support.

Transact-SQL

APS 2016 supports a broader set of T-SQL compatibility, including support for wider rows and a large number of rows, VARCHAR(MAX)NVARCHAR(MAX) and VARBINARY(MAX).  For greater analysis flexibility, APS supports full window frame syntax for ROWS or RANGE and additional windowing functions like FIRST_VALUELAST_VALUECUME_DIST and  PERCENT_RANK.  Additional functions like NEWID() and RAND() work with new data type support for UNIQUEIDENTIFIER and NUMERIC.  For the full set of supported T-SQL, please visit the online documentation.

PolyBase/Hadoop enhancements

PolyBase now supports the latest Hortonworks HDP 2.4 and HDP 2.5.  This appliance update provides enhanced security through Kerberos support via database-scoped credentials and credential support with Azure Storage Blobs for added security across big data analysis.

Install and upgrade enhancements

Hardware architecture updates bring the latest generation processor support (Broadwell), DDR4 DIMMs, and improved DIMM throughput – these will ship with hardware purchased from HPE, Dell or Quanta.  This update offers customers an enhanced upgrade and deployment experience on account of pre-packaging of certain Windows Server updates, hotfixes, and an installer that previously required an on-site download.

APS 2016 also supports Fully Qualified Domain Name support, making it possible to setup a domain trust to the appliance.  It also ships with the latest firmware/driver updates containing security updates and fixes.

Flexibility of choice with Microsoft’s data warehouse portfolio

The latest APS update is an addition to already existing data warehouse portfolio from Microsoft, covering a range of technology and deployment options that help customers get to insights faster.  Customers exploring data warehouse products can also consider SQL Server with Fast Track for Data Warehouse or Azure SQL Data Warehouse, a cloud based fully managed service.

Next Steps

For more details about these features, please visit our online documentation or download the 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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