What’s New for BI in SQL Server 2014?

The short answer is nothing much, which is probably good so we can catch our breath after the SQL Server 2012 and Office 2013 waves. As you’ve probably heard, Microsoft announced SQL Server 2014 at TechEd. SQL Server 2014 will be a database-focused release with no major changes to the BI “pillars” (SSAS, SSRS, SSIS) and PowerPivot, except perhaps bug fixes. However, you might find some other new additions and enhancements interesting depending on your specific projects:

In-Memory Enhancements

This should come to no surprise due to the continuing investment in memory backed-up storage.

  • New In-Memory storage – Code-named Hekaton, this new in-memory storage option will allow you to host SQL Server tables in memory in order to improve I/O. While predominantly targeting OLTP applications, I believe Hekaton will be useful for narrow-case BI scenarios as well, such as for improving the performance of the ETL processes by using in-memory staging tables.
  • Enhanced Columnstore indexes – Columnstore indexes will be updatable so you don’t have to drop and recreate the index when you need to change data. For more information about how we used Columnstore indexes to speed up ETL, read this blog.

Big Data

There is a lot of talk about big data around the following two technologies:

  • Hadoop – As I’ve covered before, Microsoft marketing term for Hadoop-based distributions is HDInsight. I also showed you how to program MapReduce jobs so I won’t repeat myself here.
  • Polybase – The latest version of Microsoft Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) get extended to support querying Hadoop-based data via a technology called Polybase. Microsoft’s David Dewitt did a great coverage of Polybase at SQL Pass 2012.

For more coverage of the new features, read the SQL Server 2014: A Closer Look blog by the Microsoft SQL Server team. Toward the end, notice that the public CTP1 will be out in a few weeks.