NOTE: To download an evaluation copy of SQL Server 2012, click here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/evalcenter/hh225126
To start off, I must confess I am a big fan of the SQL Server as a product in general, even SQL Server 6.0 (not kidding).
Why? In short, the product has the lowest learning curve of all database engines I know of, the installation and maintenance is swift, and it came with excellent client tools and free reporting and ETL offerings which allowed me to deliver high quality results in minimal time.
SQL Server 2012 is a no exception, so I will expand more on what comprised my top 12 picks (yes, not even 10 because I simply disagreed to omit 2 important additions).
#1: AlwaysOn - a very welcome addition to our "distributed" (a 1st class citizen word in SQL Server) world;
#2: Windows Server Core support - yes I list it as my pick #2 because now all the *NIX admins must be more fuzzy and my Windows admins happy to spend fewer sleepless Sundays applying patches;
#3: Columnstore Indexes - super fast data reads without the OPTION (FAST n)! I wish this feature will be greatly enhanced in the SQL Server vNext release and go beyond readonly;
#4: SQL Server-wise user roles - just remember to use them, saves efforts to maintain users;
#5: Enhanced auditing - speaks for itself, what business would not like this?
#6: Sequence objects - now we get what the competition had, awesome!
#7: PowerShell support just got bigger, and I guess it will even more in the next release, just ask me what we cannot do with PowerShell?
#8: Distributed reply - many the QA people need to seriously look at this;
#9: PowerView as well as the whole BISM is just what SSAS should be (from day one);
#10: SSMS now connects to Azure, enough said!
#11: Big Data Support - my personal favorite, its importance cannot be stressed enough, and finally
#12: BISM - is juts a huge leap forward in end user Analytics usefulness, I am dreaming about being able to design Infographics.
On this note about my dreams I would also like to expand on what my wishes are.
Well, as it happens in life, no product is good for all and everything and no product (or even a company) is ever maturing, it is a continues process, but the truth is also in that those who want to excel and succeed are open to change, listen AND implement, here I must say I am very glad Microsoft has opened so many doors for constructive input, a big thank you from me.
So, if you are still here with me prepare to read a few rants that I accumulated in me during all these years.
In short, what has not changed over the years is and I wish to:
1) Bring "Normal" RegEx support into SSMS. Thing is, it keeps using the old (or C++ based type of RegEx most, even .Net developers do not understand), I think this is time to make a move to one commonly use RegEx, after all we deal with a lot of data today that needs to be efficiently handled;
2) The BIDS - SSDT - Visual Studio kind of "chicken and egg" situation and lack of consistency with Visual Studio releases. Not sure here if I expressed this right, what I want to convey is that the Visual Studio has always felt being on a higher/faster release cycle, and yet a king to a pawn compare to what SQL Server (and BI developers) felt toward using their tools but developers did not get the same capabilities (lower set) of what they can do say in SSDT compare to Visual Studio 2012, not to mention SSIS where VS 2010 "shell" is the authoring tool. In my opinion, Visual Studio must become the central piece in developing anything for Microsoft platform. This is largely because of the new features the developers say in C# enjoy, for example the NuGet packager integration, or the Microsoft All-In-One Code Framework Sample Browser being built it, why SQL Server DBA cannot use and contribute to the awesome time savers? So today, SSMS and VS compliment each other (e.g. I cannot execute a stored procedure or view in VS/SSDT, but I can make and deploy changes in it).
3) More on Visual Studio or SSDT, why no 64 Bit builds or support? This for example is an issue working with SSIS where in ETL we often need to connect using 64 bit drivers. They are not getting loaded.
OK, these are the big three I can think of right now.
By the means of closing my quick write up that hopefully is useful I want to thank Microsoft for this opportunity to provide feedback!