The successor to Microsoft SQL Server 2012 is nearing release. The company announced March 18 that SQL Server 2014 has been released to manufacturing (RTM), the final step before the software is made generally available.
Describing it as an "important component of Microsoft's overall cloud-first data platform," Quentin Clark, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Data Platform Group, said in a statement that SQL Server 2014 "delivers breakthrough performance, accelerated insights through tools everyone uses and the ability to scale globally on-premises and in the cloud—letting our customers get the most from their data." The product has been put through thousands of hours of testing by preview customers, according to the company.
Despite the shadow cast by Windows Azure at last year's TechEd conference in New Orleans, SQL Server 2014 emerged as the technology that was most likely to deliver for enterprises "the most bang for the investment buck."
In his TechEd coverage for eWEEK, Eric Lundquist wrote, "In this era of big data, real-time business and solid-state memory systems, adding horsepower to your company's database operations is probably the fastest route to being rewarded rather than penalized in your technology funding decisions." SQL Server 2014 fit the bill with a hybrid in-memory online transaction processing (OLTP) model that places frequently accessed data in RAM and shunts less used data into traditional storage.
The latest edition of SQL Server "rounds out our journey to embrace in-memory technology," stated Clark. Already, in-memory processing—essentially, the practice of leveraging massive amounts of RAM to speed up applications and databases—is having a big impact at Microsoft he added.
"Today, our in-memory technology spans the core workloads in the data platform: business intelligence as part of Analysis Services, Excel and Power BI for Office 365; complex event processing with StreamInsight; in-memory columnstore in SQL Server and our data warehousing product; and now with SQL Server 2014, in-memory transaction processing," noted Clark. SQL Server's implementation can deliver a performance improvement of up to a factor of 30, he added.
Hailing SQL Server 2014 for its realistic promises, Lundquist noted that customers "can upgrade without having to wheel new boxes into your data center; the OLTP capabilities are improved, which means the many, many corporate business applications powered by transaction databases will see improvement; and it is not trying to become a 'magic box' that will solve all your business problems."
As expected, SQL Server 2014 integrates with the company's Windows Azure cloud computing platform for a range of hybrid deployment options. Incidentally, SQL Server 2014 factors into Microsoft's cloud partnership with business database and software rival Oracle. In terms of big data processing, Azure also has things covered.
HDInsight is Microsoft's Apache Hadoop-based cloud solution, said Clark. The SQL Server 2014 RTM announcement coincides with "the general availability of Hadoop 2.2 support in Windows Azure HDInsight, which has been updated to take full advantage of the latest Hadoop 2.2 platform, including support for YARN and Stinger Phase 2," he said.