Microsoft SQL Server 2014 was released for General Availability on April the 1st and brought with it a host of new features including integration with Azure, in-memory OLTP, security enhancements and improvements to AlwaysOn. (you can go here for more details)
The most compelling change for Business Intelligence workloads from SQL Server 2012 is the introduction of Updatable Columnstore indexes.
Columnstore indexes introduced in SQL Server 2012 increased throughput and improved common data warehouse query execution times significantly. However, the read-only nature of the indexes proved to be a limitation. This meant they had to be dropped and recreated when updating the underlying table causing additional processing overhead which proved difficult to accommodate near real-time BI. Another drawback encountered was the extra space the columnstore index required as the indexes had to be stored in addition to the existing row-based tables as they were built on top of the unpinning tables.
In comes SQL Server 2014 with its updateable Columnstore indexes. This development will change the way in which traditional SQL Server data warehouses have been implemented. Immediate improvements include:
- Columnstore indexes are created without reliance on row based storage which reduces space and processing requirements
- As they are now updateable, there is no need to drop indexes and rebuild hence supporting near real-time data provisioning
In short, this is a key improvement to SQL Server 2012, which will change the way in which we think about data warehousing in the future.
You can download the Evaluation for SQL Server 2014: