The new release of SQL Server 2014 is here, just two years after the release of its predecessor SQL Server 2012. What is so special about this release and why is it getting so many in the DB world excited?
The Microsoft site promises great things and you can get your hands on the bits here to test it yourself so let’s go on and see what this version has to offer.
First of all there are no major updates to Replication Services, SQL Server Integration Services or SQL Server Reporting Services and SQL Server Analysis services just gets functionality to support Power View Reports against Multidimensional Models. However there are still a significant number of functionality enhancements that are getting the DB world excited.
So what is so special about this release and what are some of the highlights? Let’s have a quick look at some of the new features in brief starting of course with the one that has got everyone talking…
Big time performance boost with In-Memory OLTP (codename Hekaton)
As databases were generally designed when memory was expensive they have traditionally been designed and optimized for disk storage and I/O.
Microsoft’s In-Memory OLTP Engine brings big performance benefits by addressing the fact that memory is much cheaper now, the number of CPU cores has increased and the clock speed of CPUs seems to have plateaued, by allowing heavily used tables to be stored in memory rather than purely on disk.
The performance increase average is 10x faster for new and existing server apps and up to 20 times faster that SQL Server 2012 according to Microsoft.
It is worth noting that this isn’t available in the Standard edition, only Enterprise, Developer and Evaluation have it.
Bye bye BIDS, hello SSDT BI
Although not quite as easy on the tongue as BIDS, its replacement SSDT BI (SQL Server Data Tools for Business Intelligence) does offer some new features and improvements.
This does have some caveats to note that may affect us. Some points to note are:
- SSDT BI supports SQL Server 2014 SSAS and SSRS for earlier versions but not SSIS.
- It seems that SSDT BI cannot be installed on the same machine as the DB itself although all the material I have seen states this is in the pre-release version. I will test this out myself when I get the opportunity.
- SSDT must be downloaded separately to SQL Server 2014
Mission Critical Functionality and Performance
Two solutions were included in SQL Server 2012; Availability Groups and Failover Cluster Instances. With SQL Server 2014 the availability, scalability and flexibility of these solutions are enhanced and extended. This basically makes HA/Failover/DR possible between multiple SQL Server instances without the need for a Storage Area Network. A big saving of both time and money.
Tighter Power BI integration
Although Power View reports were introduced with SQL Server 2012 this release boasts a much tighter Power BI integration and usage scenarios. The exact details are somewhat difficult to find at this point in time but this is definitely one area that I will be investigating and you can expect a blog post about that in the near future.
Hybrid Cloud Platform
Building on existing Azure functionality in SQL Server 2014 this release allows you, amongst other things, to deploy a database to a Windows Azure virtual Machine. This basically allows users to extend their DB environment out of their own hosted environment and on the cloud in the form of Windows Azure.
Columnstore Indexes Updated
Introduced in SQL Server 2012 memory optimized columnsotre indexes delivered a big performance boost but with one significant downfall. They couldn’t be updated directly so required that either the table behind the index was read only or you had to drop the index to update the table. Well guess what? You don’t have to anymore as the columnstore is now a columnar store, thereby removing the indexing requirement.
If you were with me right up to ‚Introduced in SQL Server 2012…‘ then you might like to check this article out which explains the concepts from the ground up ;0)
The licensing notes for SQL Server 2014 are available here.
Additionally interesting to note also is the status of the various Microsoft Certifications in the light of the release of SQL Sever 2014. It seems the SQL Server MCSA exams (461, 462. 463) won’t be updated to cover SQL Server 2014 but MCSE exams (464 to 467) will be updated on 24.04.2014 to cover SQL Server 2014. More details here.
We have the bits ready to install in our INDIM test lab so get ready for the next installment of out blog – First Impressions of SQL Server 2014.