Mission-Critical Performance Enhancements Coming in SQL Server 2014

Last month I told you about the overall set of features which Microsoft plans to release when SQL Server 2014 (SQL2014) is released to manufacturing.  Microsoft has three major feature sets that they are advancing with SQL Server 2014 (SQL2014). One is called “Mission Critical Performance.”  Microsoft wants to stake out this ground not only as performance enhancements in the relational engine, but also those features which support better data availability, performance, security, and data integration. 

SQL Server 2014 Advancements in Data Availability

  • Data Availability: Microsoft has dramatically improved their database mirroring technology using Availability Groups (AGs), under the AlwaysOn branding.  AGs enable automatic failover to one or more secondary servers across long distances and can even failover to Windows Azure Virtual Machines, if you don’t want to shell out for fully redundant hardware.  You can even perform some preventative maintenance operations on a secondary, rather than the primary server. The latest release also include Cluster-Aware Updating features and better handling of dynamic WSFC Quorums.
  • Better Backups: Microsoft provides a powerful new Recovery Advisor with SQL Server 2014 with a greatly improved user interface, enabling even page-level restores. SQL2014 also allows integrated backup directly to Windows Azure Blob services or in an instance of Windows Azure Virtual Machine.

Major New Performance Improvements in SQL Server 2014

Besides the ever improving query optimizer, better integration with Windows Server, and other incremental improvements such as the ability to now scale to 15,000 partitions, there are some major new performance improvements including:

  • In-Memory OLTP: Code named “Project Hekaton”, the all new In-Memory OLTP feature set in SQL2014 is a major architectural enhancement to the standard relational engine. Where other database vendors require you to purchase an entirely separate in-memory database engine, Hekaton is built right into SQL Server. It achieves blazing performance by storing tables in main memory and by recompiling Transact-SQL code into machine code, thus speeding up stored procedures by as much as 40x.  Because of its innovative architecture, Hekaton dispenses with traditional database structures such as locks and latches.
  • ColumnStore Index Enhancements: ColumnStore Indexes, introduced in SQL2012, now include a special high-speed batch processing mode, provide up to 100x speed improvements.  ColumnStore Indexes now offer better support for read/write operations than in SQL2012.
  • Buffer Pool Extensions: SQL2014 new enables you to use high-speed SSDs (solid-state drives) as a means of augmenting the existing data buffer pool.

Security Enhancements in SQL Server 2014

  • Better Auditing: As compliance has become more important to organizations, SQL2014 includes many new auditing features adding resilience and more precisely defined and filtered audits of database activity.
  • Row-level Security: Microsoft provides a free utility, called the SQL Server Label toolkit available at http:///, to manage industrial and government label-defined security methodology.
  • Fine-grained Access Control: SQL2014 now includes user-defined server roles, such as a DBA who can manage a SQL Server but not read the data stored there, and through improved security integration with SharePoint and Active Directory.

SQL Server 2014 Data Integration Improvements

  • Complex Data Types: A number of new or improved data types are available in SQL2014 to better interoperate with the world of Big Data and with unstructured data.
  • Improved Connectivity: SQL2014 now offers Hadoop connecters for SQL Server and the SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse for bi-directional database movement to and from Hadoop. SQL2014 also offers new drivers for PHP, Java, and JDBC on Linux and Unix systems.

One of the biggest parts of Microsoft SQL Server’s appeal is that it’s an all-in-one-box product.  So while all of these features are built in to the SQL Server 2014 Enterprise Edition at no extra cost, most other commercial database platforms charge for separate feature sets.  It’s still not cheap at almost $27,500 per licensed processor. But that’s a fraction of the cost for the same set of features for a comparably equipped Oracle or IBM DB2 UDB installation.

Download a comprehensive white paper about SQL Server 2014 Mission Critical Performance at

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Posted January 07, 2014