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Posted May 18, 2014

Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Already Powering Production Workloads

By Pedro Hernandez

Microsoft SQL Server 2014 may have just left the gate, but there are already indications that the technology could have a big impact on the IT operations of the software giant's customers.

SQL Server 2014 has been generally available since April 1. Sporting new features including in-memory online transaction processing (OLTP), solid-state disk (SSD)-based buffer pool extension support and hybrid cloud capabilities, SQL Server 2014 is Microsoft's database platform for the "ambient intelligence" era, which the company envisions will in large part be fueled by the Internet of things (IoT).

Naturally, risk-averse enterprises take a wait-and-see approach before embarking on big technology upgrades. In the case of SQL Server 2014, however, some companies have already dived in, according to Mark Souza, general manager of the Microsoft Azure Customer Advisory Team.

It's common practice for IT vendors to grant select customers access to their upcoming offerings. Microsoft's take on the practice is called the Technology Adoption Program (TAP). In the months prior to the release of SQL Server 2014, some TAP participants have already standardized on the platform.

Souza points to NASDAQ OMX Group, the financial trading services and exchange technology company. "This customer deployed SQL Server 2014 in a production environment for several months prior to general availability of the product," he informed in a company blog post.

The draw for NASDAQ OMX was SQL Server's newfound storage-sparing features. "The cost savings on storage of 500+ terabytes of data, now compressed by ~8x using SQL Server 2014 in-memory columnstore for data warehousing indexes, provides an easy justification to upgrade, especially now that the in-memory columnstore is updatable," wrote Souza.

SQL Server 2014 helped bwin.party, an online gambling firm, "scale its applications to 250k requests per second, a 16x increase from the 16k requests per second on a previous version of SQL Server, using the same hardware," said Souza. In addition, it enabled the company to slash "the number of servers running SQL Server from eighteen to one, simplifying the overall data infrastructure significantly." The firm "went into production more than a year before we released the product," he said.

Edgenet, a data services company that specializes in manufacturing and retail, leverages SQL Server 2014 to power its online selling guide. The software's new in-memory OLTP capabilities enable "them to eliminate the application-tier cache and to scale reads and writes within the database," said Souza. "Data load performance improved 7x–11x."

Read/write conflicts are a thing of the past, courtesy of in-Memory OLTP, informed Souza. Edgenet enlisted SQL Server 2014 into production four months before it shipped.

TAP may have fast-tracked some customers' technology plans, but Microsoft also got something out of the deal, suggested Souza. "The program obviously benefits Microsoft because no matter how well we test the product, it is real customer workloads that determine release quality."


Originally published on eWeek.

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