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PASS Summit 2013 - Highlight Q&A from the Experts - What are your favorite features?

PASS Summit Continues….

If you have been following my blog, in the myriad of PASS Summit 2013 related blogs, you’ve been enjoying my special summit series Highlights Q&A From the Experts, where I asked many of our SQL Server MVPs to participate in our panel discussion. 

I’ve asked a number of questions, which they answered throughout the series. You can find their thoughts, opinions, and discussion points in my previous articles, Summit Highlights, Questions & Answers, as well as some First-Timer Advice From the Experts, and What Our Expert Panel is Presenting On. Even, find out where our SQL MVPs will be hanging out in “Where Will You Be At the Summit?

This morning’s PASS conference started off with a bang, with Dr. DeWitt's keynote on Hekaton: Why, What, and How, which was also carried live on PassTV

His keynote covered one of the release-defining features of SQL Server 2014 which is In-Memory OLTP (formerly known as Project “Hekaton”) – SQL Server’s high performance, OLTP-optimized engine. The goal of this keynote is to provide a deep understanding of how In-Memory OLTP works and how we can deliver significant performance improvements for transactional workloads.

As we agree that Hekaton In-Memory OTLP is the most exciting and performance driven feature in SQL Server 2014, SQL MVP/MCM and PASS President elect – Thomas LaRock (blog|twitter) provides us a great resource in his blog post SQL Server 2014 In-Memory OLTP Hekaton Useful Links.   (More from Tom in my follow-up PASS Highlights Blog Series)

With the recent announcement of the release of SQL Server 2014 Community Technology Preview 2 (CTP2), which is available for download, it’s time to get up to speed on the changing universe and get familiar with the new features.  You can also see the Release Notes for CTP2 here.

Microsoft SQL Server 2014 builds on the mission-critical capabilities delivered in the prior release by providing breakthrough performance, availability and manageability for your mission critical applications. SQL Server 2014 delivers new in-memory capabilities built into the core database for OLTP and data warehousing, which complement our existing in-memory data warehousing and BI capabilities for the most comprehensive in-memory database solution in the market.

SQL MVP Brent Ozar (blog|twitter) has a great blog post on (Almost) Everything You Need to Know About SQL Server 2014 ...

So, in light of all the new features being talked about at the Summit this year, we asked our panel participants to tell us about their 3 (or more) favorite features in the upcoming SQL Server 2014 platform.

Rick Heiges tells us that “Clustered Column Store Index is one of my favorite as I have already seen it work in PDW; not it is in the box product.  The second favorite is Buffer Pool Extension (using SSDs).  I can see the potential, but I need to see it firsthand.  And of course Hekaton (see above for useful links) - It will not make things faster in every case, but it allows for additional scalability”

Kathi Kellenberger hasn't had a lot of time to learn about the new features yet, but, she says, “I am really intrigued with In Memory OLTP. I am hoping for new T-SQL features such as more fully implementing the windowing functions, but I haven't heard anything.  Improvements to Column Store indexes and AlwaysOn Availability Groups are also some things I care about.”

You can also read about the Changes to SQL Server 2014 AlwaysOn Availability Groups on SQLMag/SQLServerPro site.

SQL MVP Erland Sommarskog lists among his top favorite features for SQL 2014 as Hekaton and writeable column store indexes.  Jack Corbett says hasn’t yet really looked at 2014 all that deeply, but believes that In-Memory OLTP may be something that would be helpful at his current position. 


Matias Lind is “totally psyched about In Memory Technologies! With new features there come new limitations where we can find ways around or through. What I mean is with new opportunities get new challenges, and new challenges make us break new ground.  But I'm equally psyched about Power BI, hey; let's call it PowerX as there are so many flavors around the Power technologies that create a lot of new opportunities in the BI world. The new features are driving the BI to the people. We should maybe start to talk about Data Smartness. ;)”


So, as we see, overwhelmingly there is deep interest and enthusiasm with Hekaton In-Memory OLTP, and I personally agree.  However, our friend Grant Fritchey, is not yet as enthusiastic:


“Honestly... I'm not that excited about 2014 yet. Yeah, in-memory is going to be really cool for some people in some situations, but it's going to be very specific without a big draw. I'll have to dig into it further to see if I can find something to really get behind.”


Hopefully, by now with the PASS Summit fully underway, and Dr. DeWitt’s keynote, Grant’s excitement level has increased!

I also asked our expert panel, what are some real-world applicable implementations for these new features?


Based on Erland’s favorite features, his point of view on real-world deployment: “For writable column store indexes it is obvious.”  But not so fast, according to him on Hekaton, “Finding real-world use for Hekaton will require creativity. We do have some ideas for our system, but it remains to see whether they will materialize.”


Jack, do you see a practical experience in deploying In-Memory OLTP? “I believe that this technology, especially non-durable tables, would greatly help with the scalability of our existing batch processing as the batch process is currently designed”


Matias, sees that there are “tons of good uses around that topic that fits some of my customers.”


Well, you hear from the experts, here, but of course, all of the above are their opinions based on what they know so far! So, we’ll let you decide on your favorite features, and how you can rapidly scale out and implement these in practical real-world use scenarios.


Thanks again, for stopping by this week visiting my blog series Highlights, Q&A from the experts!  Some more to go in the series, so stay bookmarked to PearlKnows blog! 


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