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Looking to 2014

By Steve Jones,

It's amazing to think that 2014 is already here. We're 13 years past the fictional 2001 and now 4 years after the 2010 movie sequel. I'd still guess that those movies should have been set another 100 years into the future, given where we are today with technology. We start a new year today and I wanted to look forward to guess where the data world might go in the next year.

As I think about SQL Server in 2014, there's one big item that will change; we'll have a new version. SQL Server 2014 will be released, and while I don't think there are a lot of changes coming, there are a few noteworthy items. The two biggest items that I see coming with SQL Server 2014 are the In-Memory-OLTP Tables and writeable columnstore indexes. There are many other improvements to Resource Governor, Azure integration, incremental statistics, Power View, and a few more. However overall, it seems as though this isn't worthy of a full release to me. There are two big features, but most of the rest of the changes feel small and incremental.

In the rest of the data world, I see 2014 as a ho-hum, continue along the path evolution. We will see lots of people realize the Hadoop is more of a solution in search of a problem than vice versa. Hadoop works well, but it isn't necessary for most problem domains and might be more work and cost than is needed. I suspect we'll find that many people are also trying to use the various NoSQL platforms as a magic bullet to solve some problem they have and will realize that they really haven't attacked the problem properly. Most of the time it's not the platform, it's their approach and changing platforms won't fix that. 

I do hope that people continue to experiment with, use, and write about NoSQL platforms. We need to learn more about where and when these platforms are useful. I saw 5 database predictions from Michael Stonebraker recently and overall I agree with them. We will see more options for solving data problems, and more often than we expect, we will find that multiple solutions can, and perhaps should be, used. However we shouldn't use platforms to use platforms, and we certainly need more expertise.

I do think we will start to see more interesting hardware being released in 2014 and beyond. Tablets are maturing and I suspect by the end of 2014 we'll have many, many choices from manufacturers of different sizes, form factors, and types of convertability for laptop devices. I suspect we'll the line between phone, tablet, and laptop will continue to blur, and while I'm not sure we'll get more types of new devices than watches or eyeglasses, I am hoping that we see more creative attempts. Personally I'd like to see new monitors that can project onto glass or semi-transparent surfaces and still handle touch (ala Minority Report).

Finally, I think that Microsoft will truly abandon the RT experiment and move to a dual desktop Windows and Windows Phone platforms. They've talked about a unifying platform, but I don't see that working, and certainly not in 2014. However I am hopeful the restructuring at Microsoft will have Windows Phone moving to take over phones, some tablets, and perhaps even some laptop-style devices while Windows on the desktop and server will scale from hundred-core multi-terabytes of RAM servers to tablet style devices. Perhaps even with the option to turn off all touch-screen like items. At least, that's what I'd do.

I look forward to 2014 as the start of a new year and with the optimism that I'll be surprised and amazed at some point by technology.

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