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T-SQL Tuesday #100 – The Future of SQL Server 2026

The topic for this months T-SQL Tuesday #100 (hosted by Adam Machanic Blog/Twitter) is:

“…put on your speculative shades and forecast the bright future ahead. Tell us what the world will be like when T-SQL Tuesday #200 comes to pass.”

Big thanks to Adam for starting this monthly blog party and keeping the energy going!

Let’s predict the future of SQL Server! I will share with you my best guesswork about how it will be to work with SQL Server 2026.

SQL Server 2026

It is difficult to guess where the technology of today will be 5 years in the future let alone 8 years. That is a long time in the tech industry! Nevertheless, I consulted my crystal ball of divination and here is what I foresee.

The Future of SQL Server – Alive and Well

Back to the Future
Where will SQL Server be in another 8 years? I expect the following to hold true:
  1. Structured Query Language (SQL) will still be the dominant method for working with RDBMS. Every other year there is a rumor that SQL will be replaced or fall out of favor with another database query language.
    1. These query languages will not replace SQL: LINQ, MDX, NoSQL, SPARQL, XQuery/XPath etc. Nor will any other replace SQL.
    2. Additionally, Kevin Feasel’s Law will also still hold “any sufficiently advanced data retrieval process will eventually have a SQL interface.”
  2. DBAs will still exist – similar to the above, every few years we see a story about how we somehow won’t need DBAs anymore.
    1. Relational databases are so ingrained that we would sooner see the keyboard character layout revised than not store data in a database.
    2. As long as there are databases there will be someone to administer / develop / query them.
    3. The job isn’t going away but evolving – stay current!
  3. Relational databases are not going anywhere – NOSQL is complementary not a replacement.
    1. Edgar Codd and Chris Date were onto something. Relational algebra, relational calculus, and set theory work well together.
  4. Expect business will continue to automate all the things.
  5. Security will still be bad because nobody cares and there is little consequence for poor data stewardship.
    1. An example explains it well.
  6. The traditional employer/employee relationship will morph into a more freelance arrangement.
    1. Contracting and consulting jobs will abound.
    2. The Gig Economy could manifest and disrupt the status quo.
  7. Semicolon use for statement termination still won’t be enforced.
  8. Deprecated features will still somehow be around (DBCC DBREINDEX. old sys catalog views, SQL Profiler, etc.)

Hard to Predict the Future of SQL Server

Future Meme

Predicting the future of technology is as challenging as herding cats or chasing the wind. I’ve heard some novel ideas about the future of SQL Server. Perhaps major cloud vendors will continue to centralize and there will be much less on premise servers?

 

A colleague of mine years ago once had a prediction along the lines of Microsoft Azure pulling up and parking a trailer to your business to scale the computation. No need for that as it is cheaper and easier to centralize servers and scale them as needed.

 

Abstraction and layers will continue getting further from the lower level. I see more complexity instead of simplicity.
I don’t think we will be typing “COMPUTER: SHOW ME DATA” and it will magically produce relevant info

There’s a lot more than Natural Language Processing (NLP) preventing that.

However, one thing will be certain.

The Future of SQL Server Depends on People

…and they will change much slower than the technology.

Download More RAM

The people problems will not go away but maybe the technology helps to further mitigate them. Java rose to mainstream adoption not because it was better than C++ but because developers couldn’t stop overrunning arrays with C++ and Java simply doesn’t allow it. I exaggerate to prove a point – people issues drive technology.

 

Sometimes even large global corporations have a technological scientific experiment gone wrong. Tay AI is one such example (warning: the Tay AI link is NSFW)

 

Predictions:
  • People will still test in production…or not test at all
  • People will still resist source control
  • Documentation will still be lacking
  • People will still be making wild predictions on the internet ☺

 


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