Microsoft really surprised me with the realease of SQL Server 2016 SP1. They actually added some of the features to Standard and Express edition that used to be limited to Enterprise edition. Some of these features has been the main reason to use Enterprise edition like:
· Column store index
· InMemory tables
This is really good news for all of you that are using standard edition, but there are still some limitations that you need to be aware of, like:
· Index rebuild is still an offline operation that will block other operations
· The amount of RAM and total number of cores are limited.
It still makes sense to use Enterprise in production to make sure you have the best performance and the highest availability, but for a test or stage environment you could use standard edition.
A side effect of the compression feature in Standard edition is that you actually can store more data in the cache that is limited to 128GB as the data is also compressed in RAM.