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Posted April 18, 2014

Microsoft SQL Server 2014: The Ambient Intelligence Database

By Pedro Hernandez

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took to the stage during a customer event in San Francisco on April 15 to commemorate the launch of SQL Server 2014.

While the newest edition of the company's database has been generally available since April 1, Nadella used the occasion to celebrate its launch and showcase how it fits into the Microsoft's vision of a "data culture" driven by cloud- and mobile-driven work processes and lifestyles. Microsoft's aim is to provide the foundational software elements for this new era of "ambient intelligence" generated by the Internet of things. 

"In a mobile first, cloud first world, one of the most fascinating truths is that data is not only consumed but also generated at accelerating rates and exponentially increasing quantities," said Nadella in an official Microsoft blog post. Using the analogy of a car, Nadella said that an opportunity lies in finding "a way of catalyzing this data exhaust from ubiquitous computing and converting it into fuel for ambient intelligence."

"This fuel will power improved experiences, understanding and interactions," added Nadella. SQL Server 2014 is one of the technologies that the company is enlisting to provide that fuel.

To start, SQL Server 2014 customers can leverage dynamic RAM (DRAM)-packed hardware to speed up their applications. "This release completely brings in-memory capability to all [workloads]—OLTP, Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence," stated Nadella.

Building on the company's previous work with in-memory columnar data management, SQL Server 2014 adds in-memory online transaction processing (OLTP), said Quentin Clark, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Data Platform Group. The result is snappier, more responsive enterprise applications. "In-memory technology has been allowing users to manipulate millions of records at the speed of thought, and scaling analytics solutions to billions of records in SQL Server Analysis Services," he wrote in a blog post.

Microsoft's database also plays an important part in the company's new "big data in a box" offering, Analytics Platform System (APS). Clark called APS "the evolution of the Parallel Data Warehouse product that now supports the ability to query across the traditional relational data warehouse and data stored in a Hadoop region—either in the appliance or in a separate Hadoop cluster."

Nadella also used the event to announce a preview of Microsoft Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS). ISS is a cloud-based, platform-agnostic "service to connect, manage, capture and transform machine-generated data," he explained. "This is our Internet of Things cloud service that goes into limited beta today."

Noting that the Internet of things (IoT) "is very clearly one of the most important trends in data today," Clark said that his company is working on delivering end-to-end solutions that all customers can leverage. ISS, he asserted, "makes it easier to securely connect, manage, capture and transform machine-generated data regardless of the operating system platform."

Originally published on eWeek.

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