What’s Coming in SQL Server 2014?

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Perhaps this is your first time reading my column or you don’t know much about SQL Server. If either of those are true, then it might be a surprise to you that Microsoft has accelerated the release cadence for SQL Server to around one new release every 18 to 24 months. Add in the fact that Microsoft goes to market with their beta releases, better known as Community Technology Preview (CTPs), several months before the official release of the product. That means we could be in for a rush of new features and upgrades every year or so. Wow.

As a longtime DBA and enterprise architect, it’s always been very important to me to keep on top of the key features of new releases in my core competencies. It’s hard enough to keep at the 18-24 month cadence, but 12 months will be that much harder. The good news is that many of the features coming in SQL Server 2014 are encapsulated within broader and rather intuitive categories. It you don’t care about one of the categories, for example, those categories encompassing business intelligence or cloud features, then you can simply skip over those and learn about only those that are most compelling to you.

To help you get a leg up on SQL Server 2014, I plan to spend the next several column entries telling you about those broad categories and the most salient features within them. Today, let’s start with a broad overview.

First off, you can get all the data for yourself by checking out Microsoft’s SQL Server 2014 resource center located at You can download the free CTP and run it yourself (but don’t put it onto a

box that has another version of SQL Server on it!), download white papers, review performance specifications, and so forth.

Check the hardware requirements before running the CTP too. You can find them at

Secondly, the major categories for new features in SQL Server 2014 are:

• Mission-Critical Performance Enhancements, including In-Memory database processing (aka Project Hekaton)

• Business Intelligence Insights, including the new Data Explorer toolkit to further integrate MS-Excel with SQL Server for true self-service BI

• Hybrid Cloud Enhancements, for reduced capital and operational expenses by facilitating a partial migration to Windows Azure SQL Database, for example, just for secondary replicas in an AlwaysOn Availability Group topology.

One of the interesting knock-on effects of retooling SQL Server to run in the cloud is that the code has tightened up a lot.

Finally, one of the interesting knock-on effects of retooling SQL Server to run in the cloud is that the code has tightened up a lot. For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology reports in its “Comprehensive Vulnerability Database Assessment, 14-Apr-2013” that SQL Server has the lowest number of security vulnerabilities for any of the major database platforms that they surveyed. The old SQL Slammer worm from the early 2000s casts a long shadow, and still shows in Microsoft’s almost obsessive attention to security issues within SQL Server.

I’ll dive deeper into each of these major feature categories over the next 3 months in this column. If you have any questions or are looking for insight into specific areas of the SQL Server platform, let me know! I’m always happy to respond.

Follow Kevin Kline on Twitter and Google.

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Posted January 07, 2014