Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2014: Technical Overview, 1st Edition (2014)

Introduction

Microsoft SQL Server 2014 is the next generation of Microsoft’s information platform, with new features that deliver faster performance, expand capabilities in the cloud, and provide powerful business insights. In this book, we explain how SQL Server 2014 incorporates in-memory technology to boost performance in online transactional processing (OLTP) and data-warehouse solutions. We also describe how it eases the transition from on-premises solutions to the cloud with added support for hybrid environments. SQL Server 2014 continues to include components that support analysis, although no major new features for business intelligence were included in this release. However, several advances of note have been made in related technologies such as Microsoft Excel 2013, Power BI for Office 365, HDInsight, and PolyBase, and we describe these advances in this book as well.

Who should read this book?

This book is for anyone who has an interest in SQL Server 2014 and wants to understand its capabilities. Many new improvements have been made to SQL Server 2014, but in a book of this size we cannot cover every improvement in its entirety—or cover every feature that distinguishes SQL Server from other databases or SQL Server 2014 from previous versions. Consequently, we assume that you have some familiarity with SQL Server already. You might be a database administrator (DBA), an application developer, a business intelligence solution architect, a power user, or a technical decision maker. Regardless of your role, we hope that you can use this book to discover the features in SQL Server 2014 that are most beneficial to you.

Assumptions

We assume that you have at least a minimal understanding of SQL Server from both a database administrator’s perspective and a business-intelligence perspective, including a general understanding of Microsoft Excel, which is often used with SQL Server. In addition, having a basic understanding of Windows Azure is helpful for getting the most from the topics associated with private, public, and hybrid-cloud solutions.

Who should not read this book

As mentioned earlier, the purpose of this book is to provide readers with a high-level preview of the capabilities and features of SQL Server 2014. This book is not intended to be a step-by-step, comprehensive guide.

How is this book organized?

SQL Server 2014, like its predecessors, is more than a database engine. It is a collection of components that you can implement separately or as a group to form a scalable, cloud-ready information platform. In broad terms, this platform is designed for two purposes: to help you manage data and to help you deliver business intelligence. Accordingly, we divided this book into two parts to focus on the new capabilities in each of those areas.

Part 1, “Database administration,” is written with the database administrator (DBA) in mind and introduces readers to the numerous innovations in SQL Server 2014. Chapter 1, “SQL Server 2014 editions and engine enhancements,” discusses the key enhancements affiliated with availability, scalability, performance, manageability, security, and programmability. It then outlines the different SQL Server 2014 editions; hardware and software requirements; and installation, upgrade, and migration strategies. In Chapter 2, “In-Memory OLTP investments,” readers learn about the new in-memory feature that provides significant performance gains for OLTP workloads. Chapter 3, “High-availability, hybrid-cloud, and backup enhancements,” aims to bring readers up to date on these important capabilities that are fully integrated into SQL Server 2014 and Windows Azure.

Part 2, “Business intelligence development,” is for readers who need to understand how SQL Server 2014 and related technologies can be used to build analytical solutions that enable deeper insights through the combination of all types of data—big or small, structured or unstructured.Chapter 4, “Exploring self-service BI in Microsoft Excel 2013,” introduces add-ins for Excel that expand beyond the data mash-up capabilities of Power Pivot by supporting the abilities to find and manipulate data, create rich interactive visualizations, and explore location-based data on a 3-D map. Chapter 5, “Introducing Power BI for Office 365,” shows you not only how to move Excel workbooks to the cloud for centralized access in SharePoint Online, but also how to use Power BI features online to manage workbooks and even get answers to natural-language questions from published workbooks. Chapter 6, “Big data solutions,” explores technologies that extend the reach of analytical tools beyond relational data to Hadoop by using Microsoft HDInsight in the cloud or PolyBase on-premises.

Conventions and features in this book

This book presents information using the following conventions, which are designed to make the information more readable and easy to follow:

images Step-by-step instructions consist of a series of tasks, presented as numbered steps (1, 2, and so on) listing each action you must take to complete a task.

images Boxed elements with labels such as “Note” provide additional information.

images Text that you type (apart from code blocks) appears in bold.

images Transact-SQL code is provided to help you further understand specific examples.

Pre-release software

To help you become familiar with SQL Server 2014 as soon as possible after its release, we wrote this book using examples that work with the Community Technology Preview (CTP) 2 version of the product. Consequently, the final version might include new features, and features we discuss might change or disappear. Refer to the “What’s New in SQL Server 2014” topic in Books Online for SQL Server at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb500435(v=sql.120).aspx for the most up-to-date list of changes to the product. Be aware that you might also notice some minor differences between the CTP 2 version of the product and the descriptions and screen shots that we provide.