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James Serra's Blog

James is a big data and data warehousing technology specialist at Microsoft. He is a thought leader in the use and application of Big Data technologies, including MPP solutions involving hybrid technologies of relational data, Hadoop, and private and public cloud. 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 30 years of IT experience. James is a popular blogger ( and speaker, having presented at dozens of PASS events including the PASS Business Analytics conference and the PASS Summit. He is the author of the book “Reporting with Microsoft SQL Server 2012”. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

SQL Server 2014!

Just when you thought you got a handle on SQL Server 2012, here comes the next version!  SQL Server 2014 was announced yesterday during the TechEd North America 2013 Day 1 Keynote.  It is due to be released in early 2014, shortly after the release of Windows Server 2012 R2 (aka Windows Blue Server).  A technology preview download (SQL Server 2014 CTP 1) will be available this month, and already released is the Microsoft® SQL Server® 2014 CTP1 Product Guide.

Unfortunately, this is a database-focused release with no changes to the BI-stack (SSAS, SSRS, SSIS).

So what are some of the cool new database-focused features?  Here are my favorites:

  • Hekaton in-memory OLTP: In-memory database technology that will provide breakthrough performance gains 10 times for existing apps and up to 50 times for new applications optimized for in-memory performance with no additional hardware required.  There will be a diagnostic tool that will suggest which databases and tables are the best candidates to run in-memory.  The “Hekaton” codename will fade and  it will be referred to as the SQL Server In-Memory OLTP Engine.  See In-Memory OLTP White Paper and Edgenet Gain Real-Time Access to Retail Product Data with In-Memory Technology
  • SSD caching: You can indicate that you want to use a SSD to extend memory.  Then SQL Server will automatically cache data in the SSD.   This will increase performance by extending SQL Server in-memory buffer pool to SSDs for faster paging
  • Updatable clustered column store indexes: This was recently introduced in PDW, where you will be able to load and delete data in existing column-store indexes.  They also have faster query speeds and greater data compression,  Yea, a new BI-related feature!
  • Online maintenance additions: You can rebuild a single partition’s index online as well as switch partitions using lock priorities
  • More secondaries for AlwaysOn Availability Groups: Increased from 4 secondaries to 8
  • Improved reliability for AlwaysOn Availability Group secondaries: The secondaries will now stay online if the primary goes offline
  • Use Azure VMs as AlwaysOn Availability Group replicas:  When adding a replica you can specify an Azure VM
  • Backup to Azure: With this new feature of backup to Azure, backups can be stored offsite (in the cloud) providing safe storage of backup data
  • Smart Backup to Azure: SQL Server determines whether to do a full or differential backup and how often to backup the transaction log to Azure
  • Have data/log files in Azure storage: You can have SQL Server on-premise but specify that the data and/or log files should be on Azure
  • SSMS Migration Wizard for Windows Azure Infrastructure Services: Easily migrate an on-premises SQL Server database to a Windows Azure Virtual machine with a point and click experience in SSMS.  The newly deployed database application can be managed through SSMS or System Center 2012 R2.
  • Enhanced Query Processing: Speeds all SQL Server queries regardless of workload.  Query processing has been enhanced and split into a two-step process: decision making and execution
  • Windows Server 2012 R2: Combining with the new OS provides Increased scale, Network Virtualization, and Storage Virtualization with Storage Spaces
  • Enhanced Resource Governor: New capabilities allow you to manage IO
  • Enhanced Separation of Duties: Achieve greater compliance with new capabilities for creating role and sub-roles. For example, a database administrator can now manage the data without seeing sensitive data or personally identifiable information
  • Statistics improvements: Statistics are now maintained on the partition level

Click here to signup to be notified when the trial is ready for evaluation.

More info:

SQL Server 2014: A Closer Look

SQL Server 2014

SQL Server 2014 Datasheet

SQL Server 2014 Announced

Microsoft’s ‘Blue’ servers: What’s coming when

SQL Server 2014: Unlocking Real-Time Insights

TechEd North America 2013 Editor’s Choice: SQL Server

(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About the Next Version of SQL Server

SQL Server 2014 due out in late 2013, in-memory OLTP a big feature

Video Microsoft SQL Server High Availability and Disaster Recovery on Windows Azure

Video Microsoft SQL Server Future and Features

What’s New for BI in SQL Server 2014?

My 2 cents on SQL Server 2014

SQL Server 2014 announced


SQL Server 2014 CTP 1 Business Intelligence Summary


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