Now that we though that nothing can get any better than SQL Server 2012, Microsoft has started announcing news around SQL Server 2014. There’s even a SQL Server 2014 web site where you can register to be notified when the trial version is available.
So, what’s new and cool?
Hekaton in-memory database capabilities
Hekaton makes it possible to really speed up databases by storing objects in RAM memory. With the really cheap memory prices today, this is a very interesting feature. The name Hekaton (which means a hundred in Greek) indicates that the goal from Microsoft is to make databases 100 times faster. This is very useful both for OLTP and DW databases (in the ETL-process). The main difference compared to most competitors is that Hekaton makes it very easy to mix in-memory data with legacy data, uses natively compiled stored procedures to increase performance further and provides a new hash index optimized for memory access. More info is available in this white paper by Kalen Delaney.
With SQL Server 2014 you will be able to have up to 8 secondaries (instead of maximum 4 in SQL Server 2012). Also your readable secondaries will remain online and readable when your primary node becomes unavailable (as opposed to SQL Server 2012 where the readable secondaries become unavailable).
There’s also a new wizard that let’s you easily add a secondary node that’s being hosted in Azure as a Virtual Machine. It means you can setup a AlwaysOn secondary without having to invest in another server or building a new data center.
Updateable clustered columnstore indexes
SQL Server 2012 introduced columnstore indexes that can give a huge performance boosts, especially for large fact tables in data warehouses. However, they still relied on a traditional rowstore of data behind the columnstore index. Now in SQL Server 2014, you can truly store your data in a columnstore by using clustered columnstore indexes. Another limitation that has been lifted is that they can now be updated (INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE) as any other table. These are really huge benefits compared to SQL Server 2012.
Resource Governor for IO
The Resource Governor is a very important feature for consolidating databases and managing CPU and Memory between them. However, there has been no way to control IO, which is also a very important asset to manage. This new feature will make SQL Server 2014 even better for “SQL Server hotels” or other consolidated environments.