Top 9 New Features of SQL Server “Denali”

At the PASS Summit 2010 the next version
of SQL Server, code-named Denali, was announced and the CTP made available.
This article highlights the top new features of that release, also known as SQL
Server 11.

1. SQL Server AlwaysOn

Denali’s AlwaysOn includes features to
help simplify high-availability environments and maximize hardware investments.
One of these features is support for multi-site clustering, also referred to
multi-subnet clustering. Windows Server Core support is also included. It
attempts to reduce SQL Server downtime by eliminating 50 to 60% of the reboots
required by OS patching.

2. High Availability and Disaster Recovery

HADR, High Availability and Disaster
Recovery, is also introduced with this latest version. With it comes the
concept of Availability Groups. Availability Groups enable a set of one or more
related SQL Server databases to define one or more secondary copies. The source
set is referred to as the primary replica and the failovers as secondary
replica. One of the secondary replicas can be active, allowing for read-only
connections. Viola, instant reporting database! For more information on HADR,

3. Juneau

Juneau is the code name for the new SQL
Server Development Tools. Its purpose is to provide a single development
environment for all database related project types including bringing BIDS
(Business Intelligence Development Studio) and SSMS (SQL Server Management
Studio) into the same IDE.

4. Apollo

Apollo is the codename for Column-based
Query Accelerator. I have to admit that this is the feature I’m most excited
about. I watched some impressive demos showing how much performance gain is
realized on very large result set queries. Microsoft claims an approximate 10
times increase in query performance.

Columnstore Indexes are what is set up
to provide for this increase in query performance. Essentially, instead of storing
rows on pages, columns are stored individually on a set of pages. Algorithms
can then be used to compress the redundancy out of the column. The whitepaper on the new Columnstore Index
points out the following benefits:

  • only
    the columns needed to solve a query are fetched from disk (this is often fewer
    than 15% of the columns in a typical fact table),
  • it’s
    easier to compress the data due to the redundancy of data within a column, and
  • buffer
    hit rates are improved because data is highly compressed, and frequently
    accessed parts of commonly used columns remain in memory, while infrequently
    used parts are paged out.

5. Crescent

This cool new tool aimed at the business
user is actually still yet to come. Project "Crescent" furthers
Business Intelligence for everyone by providing a powerful and speedy data
visualization tool in the browser. It has a feature called storyboarding which
allows the user to create multiple snapshots of the data in order to tell a
story about that data. Once the snapshots are created, the storyboard can be
exported to PowerPoint where the data is displayed live inside the PowerPoint
slides. The demos of this product are a must-see. Below are two links. The last
is the keynote from Day 1 of the PASS Summit (by Ted Kummert, Microsoft Sr.
Vice President, Business Platform Division) and contains a lot more than just
Project Crescent.

Data Visualization Done Right: Project Crescent

PASS Summit 2010 Day One Live Streaming Keynote

6. FileTable

The new FileTable feature takes storing
blob data to a whole new level. With Denali, you can now define a whole table
as a FileTable and point it to a folder on a file system. When files are
written to that folder, they are available within that FileTable. They can be
queried, backed up, and restored right along with the rest of your application

7. Integration Improvements

Several improvements are coming in
Denali to make creating SSIS packages more efficient. One of these changes is
the new Undo and Redo buttons in the control and flow designers. There are also
source and destination assistants available to help set up sources and

More importantly, though, new knowledge-driven
data cleansing capabilities are being delivered as Data Quality Services.
Additionally, Impact Analysis and Lineage can be used to predict changes and
troubleshoot packages.

8. Contained Databases

Contained Databases is a concept where
databases are not tied to the instance they reside on. Everything about a
database is contained in that database without today’s coupling to the database
engine (SQL Server instance) it’s running under.

Specifically, users are no longer tied
to logins on the instance. I’m actually pretty excited about this. I can’t tell
you how much time this will save, no longer needing to fix orphaned users in
development, test, and stage when we pull down production databases to our
non-production environments.

9. Spatial Features

SQL Server spatial features have been
greatly expanded with this new release. Highlights include new CircularArc
subtypes, support for objects bigger than a logical hemisphere (including a new
FULLGLOBE data type), new methods for the geography type, spatial index
improvements, Nearest Neighbor Query Plan, and support for persisted computes

To get more detail on these features and
more, the New
Spatial Features Whitepaper
can be downloaded from Microsoft.


Intrigued by the new features of SQL
Server 11? You can download the CTP at
to try it for yourself.

For More Information

SQL Server ‘Denali’ Preview Arrives

Books Online for SQL Server Denali

Microsoft SQL Server Future Editions

Analysis Services – Roadmap for SQL
Server "Denali" and Beyond


See All Articles by Columnist

Deanna Dicken

Deanna Dicken
Deanna Dicken
Deanna Dicken is an architect with approximately 20 years of IT experience. In that time she has worked on many large-scale, mission-critical applications and has been involved at all phases of the lifecycle. She has also contributed to three SQL Server MCSE books, co-authored Learn SQL in a Weekend, and tech edited many other titles. She lives on the outskirts of Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband, Curtis, and children, Kylee and Zach.

Get the Free Newsletter!

Subscribe to Cloud Insider for top news, trends & analysis

Latest Articles