SQL server 2014 Community Technology Preview 1 (CTP1) is ready to download here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/dn205290.aspx
Project code-named “Hekaton”
One of the most exciting features in this version is a project code-named “Hekaton” that provides in-memory OLTP capabilities. As Hekaton is built into core SQL Server database it will improve the performance of the database applications significantly. It is more interesting that Hekaton is installed with SQL Server 2014 engine that means no additional action is needed to use the benefits of in-memory processing without rewriting the database application. It is really awesome that it can increase performance of existing database application without having to upgrade the hardware. Microsoft claims that Hekaton is easy to deploy and allows to access the other features in SQL Server, while taking the advantage of in-memory performance.
xVelocity ColumnStore provides the ability of in-memory processing for data warehouses. So using it in a data warehouse can improve query performance, load speed, scan rate and reduce resource usage like less disk and less memory.
Microsoft claims that “The new ColumnStore complements the existing xVelocity ColumnStore Index, providing higher compression, richer query support and updateability of the ColumnStore giving you the even faster load speed, query performance, concurrency, and even lower price per terabyte.” I really like the “lower price per terabyte” part!
Extending Memory to SSDs
The primary purpose of a database likewise SQL Server database is to store and retrieve data, so the faster disk I/O the better performance. And because disk I/O operations are consuming lots of resources and taking relevant time to be completed, SQL Server needs to focus on making I/O as efficient as possible. So buffer management is a key component to reach to the I/O efficiency goal. Buffer management consists of managing the buffer to access and update database pages and the buffer pool (called buffer cache also) to reduce database file I/O. Microsoft claims that SQL Server 2014 “Seamlessly and transparently integrates solid-state storage into SQL Server by using SSDs as an extension to the database buffer pool, allowing more in-memory processing and reducing disk IO.” and it seems to be a great feature.
Enhanced High Availability
New AlwaysOn features
Availability Groups now support up to 8 secondary replicas that remain available for reads at all times, even in the presence of network failures. Failover Cluster Instances now support Windows Cluster Shared Volumes, improving the utilization of shared storage and increasing failover resiliency. Finally, various supportability enhancements make AlwaysOn easier to use.
Improved Online Database Operations
Includes single partition online index rebuild and managing lock priority for table partition switch, greatly increasing enterprise application availability by reducing maintenance downtime impact.
There should be some more great features in SQL Server 2014 that we will discuss about them more in the future.