Microsoft to fold in-memory database technology into SQL Server Next

Hekaton, Microsoft's coming in-memory database engine, will be built into the next version of SQL Server. Meanwhile, SQL Server 2012 SP1 is now generally available.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Just a few months after launching SQL Server 2012, Microsoft is starting to peel back the covers on what's coming in the next version of its database. And while the Softies aren't sharing a due date, they are talking about new in-memory database technology that will be built into the product.


At the opening day of the SQL PASS Summit, Microsoft announced that it will be adding in-memory technology, codenamed Hekaton, into SQL Server Next. Hekaton is currently in private technology preview with a small set of customers, which company officials are planning to expand to 100 before the end of this calendar year.

In-memory databases, originally the domain of telephony, financial services, industrial control and other real-time-sensitive customers, rely on main memory, rather than disk storage, for achieving faster query results even when processing increasingly larger volumes of data. Most of the big commercial database players, including IBM, Oracle and SAP, have been talking publicly about their in-memory database products and strategies for a number of years. Microsoft, too, has been talking up its in-memory capabilities, on both the analytics-tool and column-store technology fronts.

Going forward, Microsoft is attempting to distinguish itself from other in-memory database players like SAP and Oracle by emphasizing the cost-savings and reduced management complexity it will achieve by folding in-memory technology into its core database, rather than making it a separate add-on.

"You will be able to take advantage of the hardware you already have and acclerate it by adding more memory," said Doug Leland, General Manager of SQL Server Marketing.

Leland said Microsoft is seeing up to 50 times (not 50 percent -- 50 times) performance improvements among the customers already involved in the Hekaton technical preview.

(Hekaton is a Greek term for "factor of 100." The aspirational goal of the team was to see 100 times performance acceleration levels. Hekaton also is a giant mythical creature, as well as a Dominican thrash-metal band, for what it's worth.)

Microsoft is making a couple of other announcements at SQL Pass, which is being attended by 4,000 developers and IT pros.

* Microsoft is readying the next version of its enterprise data-warehousing appliance, known as SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW). This product, due in the first half of calendar 2013, will include a new data-processing engine called PolyBase, which is designed to enable queries across relational data and non-relational Hadoop data. Microsoft Technical Fellow David Dewitt is one of the principals behind PolyBase.

* Microsoft is releasing the final version of SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1. The main feature in this service pack is support for the PowerPivot and Power View analytics capabilities in Office 2013. There are other new features in SQL Server 2012 SP1, as well, detailed in this MSDN post.

Microsoft is not sharing the codename for its next version of SQL Server, nor a tentative arrival date for it. Anyone got any information on either?



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