SQL 2014 launched

April 8, 2014 Leave a comment

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 :

Microsoft Official SQL Page

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.

Categories: SQL Server

SQL 2014 !!

June 5, 2013 Leave a comment

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 !!

Categories: SQL Server

Intel Haswell and Tablets – The future of computing

May 21, 2013 2 comments

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.

AnandTech article

Intel 4th Gen

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 ?

Xbit labs article

I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a long time , but an article from Seeking Alpha today spurred me into action.

Seeking Alpha Article

“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…..

The BI Semantic Model

April 7, 2013 Leave a comment

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.



Categories: Uncategorized

What the heck is Heckaton ?

November 23, 2012 Leave a comment

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

Categories: SQL Server Tags:

SQL Server 2012 SP1 and Hekaton

November 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Big big announcements at SQL Pass. Firstly , SP1 is now available for SQL 2012. There seems to be the usual fixes , but there also seems to be a lot with regards to compatibility with Excel 2013 and SharePoint 2013 for BI. If you’re planning to roll out BI on the 2013 platform , you need SP1. More impressively …….


The Column Store ( xVelocity ) technology that we saw for Data Warehousing applications will be available for OLTP applications ( NOT in SP 1 just to be clear ). There is no release date but this is exciting. Those of you who have seen what Column Store can do for Data Warehousing know that its pretty significant.

What we now know is that ColumnStore for Data Warehouse applications will become writable in the next major release of SQL Server ( no more dropping indexes to load ). But the impact of having this technology for OLTP means that all database applications will benefit from it and get that massive performance boost. How big a boost ? Well , Hekaton apparently means 100 in Greek …… 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized

Shape shifters are here !

October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Well Windows 8 has landed , and with it…. shape shifters. No , not what you’re thinking ( I actually don’t know what you’re thinking ) . Shape shifters ( convertibles? ) are basically laptop PC’s that can swing around their screens to become tablets. We were promised something of a PC revolution with Windows 8 , with the new touch interface being the biggest change to Windows since ’95. What many didn’t realize though , is that with it we would see all types of interesting hardware devices surface as well ( see what I did there ). And the first batch are here…..

Engadget has just reviewed the new Dell XPS 12 : here

Looks quite interesting. If you’re too lazy to click the link , here’s a pic of what the beast looks like

Now this is all interesting because we could be looking at the future here. Even with tablets being more and more popular , notebooks aren’t going away. You’ll still see them at airports, coffee shops etc. But how will they all look in a few years time ? They’ll be smaller , yes. They will all have touch screens, I’ve already mentioned that before. But will the average joe embrace this form factor for his basic notebook ? I’ll have to use this first to gauge an opinion – its definitely not going to replace a tablet in tablet mode. But it might be tablet enough for those unwilling to fork out for 2 devices.

While the above might seem trivial to some , I’m just happy that we’re seeing some excitement in the PC industry again. ( Recently , the only articles about PC’s were predicting the death of my favourite gadget ). For that reason alone we can be happy that Windows 8 is what it is.