Last year, Microsoft officials said the next version of its SQL Server database would include built-in in-memory online transaction processing (OLTP) technology. That was all they'd say at that point about the next version of SQL Server.
Last week, company officials reconfirmed plans to incorporate in-memory OLTP -- via a new engine codenamed "Hekaton" -- in the the next version of SQL Server, known officially as SQL Server 2014. But they also expanded on some of the other features that will be in the coming release.
A first Community Technology Preview (CTP) of SQL Server 2014 is due in late June 2013. The final product is expected to ship in early 2014. (Those interested in testing CTP1 can sign up for notification now.)
The Hekaton in-memory capabilities are being design to complement the existing in-memory data-warehousing and business-intelligence (BI) capabilities already in SQL Server, officials said during TechEd last week.
Officials reiterated that even though Microsoft is changing the core engine, the Hekaton technology will continue to work with traditional SQL Server tables, so that users will see performance gains even on existing hardware.
With SQL Server 2012, Microsoft introduced new column store capabilities into its database. But that column store was an in-memory index. With SQL Server 2014, this column store becomes updatable with faster query speeds and greater data compression, yielding more real-time analytics processing capabilities.
SQL Server 2014 also will include new buffer-pool-extension support for solid-state drives, enabling faster paging. Microsoft is enhancing its "AlwaysOn" technology, also introduced with SQL Server 2012, so that it delivers "mission-critical" availability, with up to eight readable secondaries and no down time during online indexing.
SQL Server 2014 will back-up more simply and seamlessly to Windows Azure, enabling users to back up their on-premises data to the cloud at an instance-level for disaster-recovery purposes. Backups can be automatic or manual, and a backup can be restored to a Windows Azure Virtual Machine, if need be.
When used in conjunction with Windows Server Blue -- a k a Windows Server 2012 R2, due out later this calendar year -- SQL Server 2014 will deliver increased scale in terms of compute, network virtualization and storage virtualization, officials said.
SQL Server is one of Microsoft's billion-dollar businesses. According to Microsoft officials, 46 percent of the databases deployed worldwide are now SQL Server, and customers are running 300,000 SQL Azure databases in Windows Azure.