In my last post , I spoke about the free Azure credits that every MSDN subscriber gets , and detailed the steps to activate them.
Well , the Azure channel on Youtube now has a video which talks about this.
I thought I’d share a Windows 8 tip with you guys. When you’re using a Modern Application ( like Windows Mail ) , and you click on a Hyperlink , it normally opens it up with Modern Internet Explorer ( like in the image below ).
This is fine when you’re on a tablet ( or in touch mode ). It’s not so great if you’re using a mouse and keyboard. However, there is a setting to change this behaviour.
1) Launch the Desktop Internet Explorer
2) Go to [Tools] , [Internet Options] and then [Programs]
3) Under [Choose how you open links], select [Always in Internet Explorer on the Desktop]
When you go back into a Modern Application and click on a link , it will take you to the Desktop Internet Explorer.
This is the big one !! SQL 2014 , with the in-memory OLTP capability, has officially launched as of 1 April 2014. You’ll find everything that you need to know at the link below :
So far , I’ve been experimenting with the in-memory tables , and I’ve definitely seen some big performance improvements. I’ll do an upcoming post detailing how you create these tables.
Before that , I want to talk about dev and test environments. Many of you will be wanting to try out SQL 2014 , but perhaps don’t have the space available to spin up a VM. What you can do in this situation, if you have an MSDN subscription, is spin up a VM in Azure at no cost, and try out SQL 2014 there. To do so :
1) Log into the main MSDN page ( http://www.MSDN.com )
2) Click on “Cloud”
3) Under “Start your free trial” click on sign up
4) Scroll down to the bottom of that page. You’ll see a heading called “MSDN Subscriber?”. Click on “Activate Now”
5) You are basically entitled to $150 per month of free Azure services.
Once you have sorted that out , you’ll see that SQL 2014 is already available in Azure. There are preconfigured VM templates with various options.
It takes about 5 minutes to spin up a new Virtual Machine , with the OS and SQL 2014 already installed !! Once that’s done, you can remote desktop into that and work on it as normal.
Bet you didn’t see that one coming ! While some people are still getting to grips with the excellent SQL 2012 , Microsoft has officially announced SQL 2014 at Tech Ed North America.
Your first stop should be Microsofts website , where you can sign up to be notified once the trial version is available. There are also 3 PDF documents at the bottom of that page that I highly recommend downloading.
Next , what exactly was announced in terms of features ? Just some of them :
1) Heckaton ! I’ve blogged about this before. It’s basically in-memory technology to give SQL Server OLTP applications a massive performance boost.
2) Writeable Column Store Indexes !! – A popular feature , and now your fact tables won’t be read-only once you create the index.
3) SSD Caching – extend memory by caching on an SSD. Also a performance boosting enhancement.
4) Extended Online Operations – more operations supported without taking database offline , and this extends uptime.
I’m sure that there are a whole lot more that we’ll learn about in the upcoming months. In the meantime , I recommend that you download those whitepapers at the Microsoft site and get reading !!
Like many enthusiasts, I’m very excited about Intel’s upcoming Haswell chips, and I’m really hoping that Intel can deliver on the hype. If you want more information on this new architecture, there’s nothing better than the ( as usual ) in-depth article at Anandtech.
Now while any new processor launch gets people excited in terms of more horsepower being available , here we also expect better integrated graphics performance and much reduced power consumption. And it’s that last aspect, together with the timing of this launch that makes this a significant milestone on the computing timeline, in my opinion.
You see, we’ve been hearing recently about how we are now in this “post-pc” era, and how tablets and phones are the computers of the 2010’s. Its something we certainly see , people walking around with massive smart phones and, in meetings, everyone holding an iPad.
But what is also clear to me is that these devices haven’t replaced PC’s for most people. Maybe it has with college students, but not in the enterprise. They are simply complimentary devices.
Enter Windows 8. When launched, I really thought that Windows 8 tablets would change all this. I felt that tablets like Surface would be to notebooks what notebooks were to desktops 10 years ago. We didn’t see that happen in a big way , because the launch of Windows 8 was only the first step.The second important step that I feel will drive this will be the launch of Haswell. Why ?
How does 5 times the power efficiency of current chips sound ?
I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a long time , but an article from Seeking Alpha today spurred me into action.
“The advantage of the Windows 8 based tablets and hybrids was supposedly that it can run legacy software, but the disadvantage was that there was an awkward trade-off between power and energy and cooling needs. The user could either buy a rather underpowered Atom CPU based tablet/hybrid that was as sleek and energy efficient as most of the competition, or a much less energy efficient iCore based tablet/hybrid that is thick, heavy, doesn’t last all day but is fully powered in terms of processor needs.
With the new Haswell processors, that trade-off has become distinctly reduced, perhaps it even disappears completely.”
As I said , this is the next milestone and I can’t wait. Of course , we will then have the improved Windows 8.1 released after that and we’ll then be truly into the “PC-Plus” era…..
I’m prepping a Session on the BI semantic Model for Tech Ed Africa. I came across this old but excellent blog post detailing the differences between the Tabular Model and Multidimensional model – handy if you’re starting out in exploring the changes with SQL 2012.
As you will have heard by now, some exciting announcements were made at SQL Pass. One of those was Hekaton , the exciting new in-memory database platform for SQL Server. I’ve found some more information on Hekaton.
Before I move onto that though, remember that xVelocity ColumnStore debuted in SQL 2012 , and the performance results are already impressive. I did a blog post on ColumnStore here, and the results were very impressive.
But that currently only applies to Data Warehouse workloads. Now we have “Hekaton” , which promises to bring the xVelocity technology to OLTP workloads. What we’ve heard at pass about Hekaton :
- Will ship with the next major version of Sql Server
- Will be integrated into SQL Server – no separate interface or programming model
- Basically allows you to place most frequently used OLTP data tables in memory , in order to boost reads and writes ( that’s a very simplified explanation of it )
- You can keep your other OLTP tables on normal storage. So a database application can be designed to run with a hybrid storage mechanism.
I would imagine that at some interval , the in-memory table data is written to disk. According to Microsoft , some customers on TAP are testing this at the moment , and are seeing anywhere between 5 and 50 times throughput gains. While I don’t like repeating such claims , we did see the evidence of such speed boosts with ColumnStore , so this is very exciting.
In the mean time , start ordering more RAM for your servers ….. J