Category Archives: OLTP

Are you harnessing all that in-memory can do for your business?

Faster transactions, faster queries and faster analytics. Sounds like nirvana right? Just imagine it… your customers can find what they want from your large product catalog more quickly and purchase without huge lags. Your business divisions can perform timely analytics highlighting product, web site, and data trends. It’s all possible with in-memory technologies, and Microsoft SQL Server 2014’s in-memory is the secret speed sauce you need to realize these benefits.  

Microsoft SQL Server 2014 offers optimized in-memory technologies for transaction processing (OLTP), data warehousing and data analytics built right into the product. We have a long history with in-memory technologies in SQL Server (more on that in a subsequent blog post), and the enhancements we’ve made to the In-Memory ColumnStore provide greater data compression and increased performance, resulting in world-record benchmarks on industry standard hardware.

So what does all this mean for you? Significant performance gains for starters. Microsoft’s in-memory solution leads to up to 30x faster transactions, over 100x faster queries and reporting, and easy management of millions of rows of data in Excel. The following video highlights just how in-memory can help speed your business:

Of course, gains vary by situation, but check out a few of our customers and how they’ve benefited from the latest in-memory improvements in SQL Server 2014:

  • Nasdaq was able to decrease query times from days to minutes, while at the same time reducing storage costs by 10x.
  • Bwin, using our in-memory technology on standard commodity servers, was able to boost performance gains by 17x and queries by 340x.
  • EdgeNet realized near-real time inventory updates and higher customer satisfaction because of the 7x faster performance our in-memory gave them.

Best of all, Microsoft’s in-memory solution is included in SQL Server 2014 at no additional cost. It can be used on industry-standard hardware, without the need for expensive upgrades, and there are no new development tools, management tools or APIs to learn. We invite you to visit http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/solutions/in-memory.aspx where you can see more about our in-memory solution, how customers are using it to speed their business, and how you can get started.

New Optimized OLTP and Data Warehousing SQL Server Images on Azure

Microsoft Azure continues to offer customers more reasons why  Azure Virtual Machines are an ideal place to develop, test and run your SQL Server applications.  This promise is further enhanced with the release of new workload optimized images for SQL Server that provide greater performance and simplified setup when it comes to running data warehousing and OLTP workloads in Azure.   There are 4 new SQL Server images being released with benefits outlined below:

  • New Data Warehousing Optimized Image for both SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2012  – These images simplify the setup process for customers by adding more automation. For example, the automation of attaching a disk to the SQL Server VM running a data warehouse workload. 
  • New OLTP Optimized Image for both SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2012 – These new images allow a customer to get better performance for an OLTP high IO intensive workload.   One of the key improvements in this tuned image is the ability to attach many disks to the SQL Server VM.  This is critical in terms of improving IO in an OLTP workload as the number of disk has a direct impact on OLTP performance.  In addition, new Windows features are also utilized like Storage Pools for multi-disk environment to improve IO performance and latency.

The image below highlights the new optimized images being available on Microsoft Azure.

Be sure to read the blog post “New VM Images Optimized for Transactional and DW Workloads in Azure VM Gallery” for a more detailed technical overview.

Continue learning more about Microsoft Azure, Virtual Machines, and how our customers are reaping the benefits of these technologies:

Try Microsoft Azure.

Learn more about Virtual Machines.

Read how Amway and Lufthansa leveraged Microsoft SQL Server 2014 and Windows Azure.

Announcing the PASS 24 HOP Challenge

Calling all data junkies! How smart are you?  Want to get smarter?

Play along with #pass24hop Challenge on Twitter starting at 5:00 AM PT Tuesday, September 9, 2014 to win a free Microsoft Exam Voucher!  Simply watch 24 Hours of PASS and be the first to answer the question correctly. At the beginning of each 24 live 24 Hours of PASS sessions (approximately 5-8 minutes into each hour) a new question regarding the session will be posted online on the  @SQLServer Twitter account. The first tweet with the correct answer will win a prize.  Your answer must include hashtags #pass24hop and #24hopquiz.

To take part in the #pass24hop Challenge, you must:

  1. Sign in to your Twitter account. If you do not have an account, visit www.twitter.com to create one. Twitter accounts are free.
  2. Once logged into your Twitter account, follow the links and instructions to become a follower of @SQLServer.
  3. From your own account, reply your response to the question tweeted by @SQLServer.  
  4. Your tweet must contain both the #pass24hop and #24hopquiz hashtags to be eligible for entry.
  5. Your tweet must include the complete answer to the question, or it will be disqualified.
  6. The first person to correctly tweet a correct reply to the corresponding question will win the prize described below.  

Register now for 24 Hours of PASS and get ready for 24 hours of play!  

Learn more about the 24 Hours of PASS read the official rules below.

 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. COMMON TERMS USED IN THESE RULES:

These are the official rules that govern how the ’24 Hours of PASS Social Media Answer & Question Challenge (“Sweepstakes”) promotion will operate. This promotion will be simply referred to as the “Sweepstakes” throughout the rest of these rules. In these rules, “we,” “our,” and “us” refer to Microsoft Corporation, the sponsor of the Sweepstakes. “You” refers to an eligible Sweepstakes entrant.

WHAT ARE THE START AND END DATES?

This Sweepstakes starts at 5:00 AM PT Tuesday, September 9, 2014 and ends at 5:00 AM PT Tuesday, September 9, 2014 and ends at 7:00 AM PT Wednesday, September 10, 2014 (“Entry Period”). The Sweepstakes consists of 24 prizes. Each Prize Period will begin immediately following each of the 24 session and run for 60 minutes.  

CAN I ENTER?

You are eligible to enter this Sweepstakes if you meet the following requirements at time of entry:

· You are professional or enthusiast with expertise in SQL Server or Business Intelligence and are 18 years of age or older; and

o If you are 18 of age or older, but are considered a minor in your place of residence, you should ask your parent’s or legal guardian’s permission prior to submitting an entry into this Sweepstakes; and

· You are NOT a resident of any of the following countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.

PLEASE NOTE: U.S. export regulations prohibit the export of goods and services to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. Therefore residents of these countries / regions are not eligible to participate

• You are NOT an employee of Microsoft Corporation or an employee of a Microsoft subsidiary; and

• You are NOT involved in any part of the administration and execution of this Sweepstakes; and

• You are NOT an immediate family (parent, sibling, spouse, child) or household member of a Microsoft employee, an employee of a Microsoft subsidiary, or a person involved in any part of the administration and execution of this Sweepstakes.

This Sweepstakes is void wherever prohibited by law.

HOW DO I ENTER?  

At the beginning of each 24 live 24 Hours of PASS sessions (approximately 5-8 minutes into each hour) a new question regarding the session will be posted online on the  @SQLServer Twitter account. The first tweet with the correct answer will win a prize.  Your answer must include hashtags #pass24hop and #24hopquiz.  Failure to use this hashtag will automatically disqualify you.

To enter, you must do all of the following:

  1. Sign in to your Twitter account. If you do not have an account, visit www.twitter.com to create one. Twitter accounts are free.
  2. Once logged into your Twitter account, follow the links and instructions to become a follower of @SQLServer
  3. From your own account, reply your response to the question tweeted by @SQLServer  
  4. Your tweet must contain both the #pass24hop and #24hopquiz hashtags to be eligible for entry
  5. Your tweet must include the complete answer to the question, or it will be disqualified.
  6. The first person to correctly tweet a correct reply to the corresponding question will win the prize described below.  

Limit one entry per person, per session.  For the purposes of these Official Rules, a “day” begins 5:00 AM PT Tuesday, September 9, 2014 and ends at 7:00 AM PT Wednesday, September 10, 2014 (“Entry Period”). If you reply with more than one answer per session, all replies received from you for that session will be automatically disqualified.  You may submit one answer to each session, but will be eligible to win only one prize within the 24 hour contest period.

We are not responsible for entries that we do not receive for any reason, or for entries that we receive but are not decipherable for any reason, or for entries that do not include your Twitter handle.

We will automatically disqualify:

  • Any incomplete or illegible entry; and
  • Any entries that we receive from you that do not meet the requirements described above.

WINNER SELECTION AND PRIZES

The first person to correctly respond will receive a Microsoft Exam Voucher.  Approximate Retail Value each $150.  A total of twenty four prizes are available.

Within 48 hours following the Entry Period, we, or a company acting under our authorization, will select one winner per session to win one free Microsoft Certification Exam.  Voucher has a retail value of $ $150.  Prize eligibility is limited to one prize within the contest period.  If you are selected as a winner for a session, you will be ineligible for additional prizes for any other session.  In the event that you are the first to answer correctly on multiple session, the prize will go to the next person with the correct answer. 

If there is a dispute as to who is the potential winner, we reserve the right to make final decisions on who is the winner based on the accuracy of the answer provided, ensuring that the rules of including hashtags is followed, and the times the answers arrives based on what times are listed on www.twitter.com.

Selected winners will be notified via a Direct Message (DM) on Twitter within 48 business hours of the daily drawing. The winner must reply to our Direct Message (DM) within 48 hours of notification via DM on Twitter. If the notification that we send is returned as undeliverable, or you are otherwise unreachable for any reason, or you do not respond within 48 business hours, we will award the prize to an alternate winner as randomly selected. Only one alternate winner will be selected and notified; after which, if unclaimed, the prize will remain unclaimed.

If you are a potential winner, we may require you to sign an Affidavit of Eligibility, Liability/Publicity Release within 10 days of notification. If you are a potential winner and you are 18 or older, but are considered a minor in your place of legal residence, we may require your parent or legal guardian to sign all required forms on your behalf. If you do not complete the required forms as instructed and/or return the required forms within the time period listed on the winner notification message, we may disqualify you and select an alternate winner.

If you are confirmed as a winner of this Sweepstakes:

  • You may not exchange your prize for cash or any other merchandise or services. However, if for any reason an advertised prize is unavailable, we reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value; and
  • You may not designate someone else as the winner. If you are unable or unwilling to accept your prize, we will award it to an alternate potential winner; and
  • If you accept a prize, you will be solely responsible for all applicable taxes related to accepting the prize; and
  • If you are otherwise eligible for this Sweepstakes, but are considered a minor in your place of residence, we may award the prize to your parent/legal guardian on your behalf.

WHAT ARE YOUR ODDS OF WINNING? 
There will be 24 opportunities to respond with the correct answer. Your odds of winning this Challenge depend on the number of responses and being the first to answer with the correct answer.

WHAT OTHER CONDITIONS ARE YOU AGREEING TO BY ENTERING THIS CHALLENGE? 
By entering this Challenge you agree:

· To abide by these Official Rules; and

· To release and hold harmless Microsoft, and its respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, employees and agents from any and all liability or any injury, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with this Challenge or any prize won; and

· That Microsoft’s decisions will be final and binding on all matters related to this Challenge; and

· That by accepting a prize, Microsoft may use of your proper name and state of residence online and in print, or in any other media, in connection with this Challenge, without payment or compensation to you, except where prohibited by law

WHAT LAWS GOVERN THE WAY THIS CHALLENGE IS EXECUTED AND ADMINISTRATED? 
This Challenge will be governed by the laws of the State of Washington, and you consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the courts of the State of Washington for any disputes arising out of this Challenge.

WHAT IF SOMETHING UNEXPECTED HAPPENS AND THE CHALLENGE CAN’T RUN AS PLANNED? 
If cheating, a virus, bug, catastrophic event, or any other unforeseen or unexpected event that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled, (also referred to as force majeure) affects the fairness and / or integrity of this Challenge, we reserve the right to cancel, change or suspend this Challenge. This right is reserved whether the event is due to human or technical error. If a solution cannot be found to restore the integrity of the Challenge, we reserve the right to select winners from among all eligible entries received before we had to cancel, change or suspend the Challenge. If you attempt to compromise the integrity or the legitimate operation of this Challenge by hacking or by cheating or committing fraud in ANY way, we may seek damages from you to the fullest extent permitted by law. Further, we may ban you from participating in any of our future Challenge, so please play fairly.

HOW CAN YOU FIND OUT WHO WON? 
To find out who won, send an email to v-daconn@microsoft.com by September 15, 2014 with the subject line: “SQL Server QQ Winners

WHO IS SPONSORING THIS CHALLENGE? 
Microsoft Corporation 
One Microsoft Way 
Redmond, WA 98052

New: ASP.NET Session State Provider for SQL Server In-Memory OLTP

Microsoft SQL Server 2014 brings new performance and scalability gains by introducing In-Memory OLTP.  In-Memory OLTP contains tables and indexes optimized for in memory. Transactions execute under lock-free algorithms to provide linear scalability and Transact-SQL stored procedures can be compiled in native machine code for maximum efficiency in processing.

Working with SQL Server customers on In-Memory OLTP engagements, a common pattern emerged around the desire for increased performance and scalability when using ASP.NET session state. Some early adopters modified their SQL Server objects to take advantage of In-Memory OLTP for ASP.NET session state, with great success. To learn more, read the bwin.party case study “Gaming site can scale to 250,000 requests per second and improve player experience”. To further enhance this scenario, we have created a new provider to make it easier for customers to take advantage of SQL Server In-Memory OLTP when using ASP.NET session state.

This ASP.NET session state provider is fully optimized for In-Memory OLTP by calling natively compiled Transact-SQL stored procedures and by creating all tables as memory-optimized. The functionality of the provider was tested both internally and by external customers. The results showed the implementation was able to provide some significant gains at scale levels which would have previously exhibited a bottleneck on the database.

NOTE: While some testing has been done before the release, we recommend executing your own testing and validation to understand how this implementation behaves in your specific environment.

Getting Started

Setting up the provider requires two steps, installing the provider into the ASP.NET application and creating the In-Memory OLTP database and objects in Microsoft SQL Server 2014.

The provider and scripts can be accessed in two ways:

1. The package has been uploaded to NuGet: https://www.nuget.org/packages/Microsoft.Web.SessionState.SqlInMemory/

2. The source code is also accessible through CodePlex: https://msftdbprodsamples.codeplex.com/releases/view/125282

NuGet Installation

Download the ASP.NET Session State Provider for SQL Server In-Memory OLTP from the NuGet gallery by running the following command from the Visual Studio Package Manager Console:

PM> Install-Package Microsoft.Web.SessionState.SqlInMemory

More information about the NuGet package can be found here:

https://www.nuget.org/packages/Microsoft.Web.SessionState.SqlInMemory/

Installing the package will do the following things:

  • Add references to the ASP.NET Session State Provider assembly.
  • Add to the web.config file a customProvider equals to "SqlInMemoryProvider", where the connectionString attribute needs to be updated.
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <configuration>
      <system.web>
        <sessionState mode="Custom" customProvider="SqlInMemoryProvider">
          <providers>
            <add name="SqlInMemoryProvider"
                 type="Microsoft.Web.SessionState.SqlInMemoryProvider"
                 connectionString="data source=sqlserver;initial catalog=ASPStateInMemory;User ID=user;Password=password;" />
          </providers>
        </sessionState>
      </system.web>
    </configuration>
  • Adds an ASPStateInMemory.sql file that includes the script for creating the SQL Server database configured to support In-Memory OLTP.

Setting up In-Memory OLTP Database and objects

Open the T-SQL script file "ASPStateInMemory.sql" and update the 'CREATE DATABASE' statement to replace the 'FILENAME' attributes to specify a path that will exist in your SQL Server machine where the memory-optimized filegroup should exist. For further considerations on placement of this filegroup see Books Online section Creating and Managing Storage for Memory-Optimized Objects

CREATE DATABASE [ASPStateInMemory]
ON PRIMARY (
  NAME = ASPStateInMemory, FILENAME = 'D:SQLdataASPStateInMemory_data.mdf'
),
FILEGROUP ASPStateInMemory_xtp_fg CONTAINS MEMORY_OPTIMIZED_DATA (
  NAME = ASPStateInMemory_xtp, FILENAME = 'D:SQLdataASPStateInMemory_xtp'
)
GO

After updating the 'FILENAME' attributes, run the entire script for creating the In-Memory tables and the natively compiled stored procedures.

Additionally, create a periodic task in SQL Server to run the stored procedure 'dbo.DeleteExpiredSessions'. This procedure removes the expired sessions and frees up the memory consumed.

NOTE: The memory-optimized tables are created with a durability of SCHEMA_ONLY to optimize for performance. If session data durability is required, then change the 'DURABILITY' attribute from 'SCHEMA_ONLY' to 'SCHEMA_AND_DATA'. More information can be found in Books Online sections Defining Durability for Memory-Optimized Objects and Durability for Memory-Optimized Tables.

Conclusion

SQL Server In-Memory OLTP has shown to greatly improve the performance of ASP.NET session state applications. This provider allows customers to optimize ASP.NET web farms to take advantage of SQL Server In-Memory OLTP using a packaged solution with ease.

For further considerations on session state with In-Memory OLTP, along with other solution patterns which have shown success with SQL Server In-Memory OLTP, please reference the whitepaper: In-Memory OLTP – Common Workload Patterns and Migration Considerations.  

Download the Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Evaluation and see how in-memory processing built into SQL Server 2014 delivers breakthrough performance.

Edgenet Exec Q&A

Edgenet provides optimized product data for suppliers, retailers and search engines. Used online and in stores, Edgenet solutions ensure that businesses and consumers can make purchasing and inventory decisions based on accurate product information. Last year, it implemented an In-Memory OLTP solution built on SQL Server 2014, which has helped it continue to innovate and lead in its business

We caught up with Michael Steineke, Vice President of IT at Edgenet, to discuss the benefits he has seen since Edgenet implemented SQL Server 2014.

Q: Can you give us a quick overview of what Edgenet does?

A: We develop software that helps retailers sell products in the home building and automotive industries. We work with both large and small dealers and provide software that helps determine and compare which products are in a local store.

We provide the specs, pictures, manuals, diagrams, and all the rest of the information that a customer would need to make an informed decision. We take all of this data, standardize it, and provide it to retailers and search engines.

With the major shift to online sales over the past handful of years, retailers need to have relevant and timely product information available so the customer can compare products and buy the best one for their needs.

In a single store, inventory is easy. In a chain where you have 1,000 or 5,000 stores, that gets very complicated. Our company is built on product data, and we need a powerful solution to manage it.

Q: What is your technology solution?

A: We are using In-Memory OLTP based on SQL Server 2014 to power our inventory search. This is where SQL Server 2014 comes in. Our applications make sure we have the right product listed, pricing and availability, and we couldn’t do it without In-Memory OLTP.

Q: What types of benefits have you seen since deployment?

A: SQL Server 2014 and OLTP have helped change our business. Our clients are happy as well. No matter what our customers need, we can do it with our solution. If a retailer wants to supply the data to us every 10 minutes, we can update every 10 minutes. It’s the way we like to do our business.

Q: Why did you choose to deploy SQL 2014 in your organization?

A: Working with Microsoft was a natural choice since we often are early adopters with new technologies. Our goal is to utilize new feature sets of new software as much as possible so we stay innovators in the field. That was the main reason we were so excited to deploy the In-Memory OLTP features with SQL Server 2014.

Q: What type of data are you managing?

A: Our inventory data isn’t extremely large, but there is a lot of volatility with it. We are talking about managing thousands of products across thousands of stores, with different pricing and availability for each store. There could be hundreds of millions of rows for just one retailer. Our big data implementation is around managing this volatility in the market, and we need a powerful back-end solution to help us handle all sorts of information.

Q: What are the advantages of In-Memory OLTP?

A: The biggest advantage we are getting is the ability to continually keep data up-to-date, so we always have real-time inventory and pricing. While we are updating we can continue to use the same tables, with little or no impact on performance. We were also able to consolidate a database used for the application to read that was refreshed daily and a database that consumed the updates from our customers, to one In-Memory database.

 

For more information about SQL Server 2014, check out the website and start a free trial today.

Dell Doubles Application Speeds, Processes Transactions 9X Faster with In-Memory OLTP

As a global IT leader, Dell manufactures some of the world’s most innovative hardware and software solutions. It also manages one of the most successful e-commerce sites. In 2013, the company facilitated billions in online sales. On a typical day, 10,000 people are browsing Dell.com at the same time. During peak online shopping periods, the number of concurrent shoppers can increase 100 times, to as many as one million people.

To help facilitate fast, frustration-free shopping despite traffic spikes, Dell has distributed the website’s online transaction processing (OLTP) load between 2,000 virtual machines, which include 27 mission-critical databases that run on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise software and the Windows Server 2012 operating system. These databases, along with hundreds of web applications, are supported by Dell PowerEdge servers, Dell Compellent storage, and Dell Networking switches.

When Dell learned about SQL Server 2014 and its in-memory capabilities, the company immediately signed up to be an early adopter. Not only are memory-optimized tables in SQL Server 2014 lock-free—making it possible for numerous applications to simultaneously access and write to the same database rows—but also the solution is based on the technologies that IT staff already know how to use.

Initially, engineers set up the database tables to be fully durable, meaning that the table replicas are synchronous copies. However, developers can also configure the tables to use delayed durability, which means that changes made to a table’s replica are delayed slightly to minimize any impact on performance.

By gaining the option to store tables in memory, Dell is achieving unprecedented OLTP speeds. “The performance increase we realize with In-Memory OLTP in SQL Server 2014 is astounding!” says Scott Hilleque, Design Architect at Dell. “After just a few hours of work, groups sped database performance by as much as nine times. And all aspects of our In-Memory OLTP experience has been seamless for our staff because it is so easy to adopt, and its implementation produces zero friction for architects, developers, database administrators, and operations staff.”

Although Dell is in the very early stages of adopting SQL Server 2014, IT workers are excited by the impact of In-Memory OLTP. The more the IT team can speed database performance, the faster web applications can get the information that they need to deliver a responsive and customized browsing experience for customers.  Reinaldo Kibel, Database Strategist at Dell summarizes that “In-Memory OLTP in SQL Server 2014 really signifies a new mindset in database development because with it, we no longer have to deal with the performance hits caused by database locks—and this is just one of the amazing benefits of this solution.”

You can read the full case study here  and watch the video here:

Also, check out the website to learn more about SQL Server 2014 and start a free trial today.  

In-Memory OLTP Sample for SQL Server 2014 RTM

SQL Server 2014 introduces the new In-Memory OLTP feature to boost performance of OLTP workloads. In an earlier blog post, Quentin Clark described how In-Memory OLTP has helped customers achieve performance gains up to 30X.

To help you get started with the new In-Memory OLTP feature in SQL Server 2014 we created a sample around sales order processing based on the AdventureWorks sample database. This is an update of the sample we published back in November following the CTP2 release.

Installation instructions and documentation can be found on MSDN:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn511655(v=sql.120).aspx

The sample script can be downloaded from Codeplex:

https://msftdbprodsamples.codeplex.com/releases/view/114491

We encourage you to download and install the sample to become familiar with the new memory-optimized tables and natively compiled stored procedures, introduced by the In-Memory OLTP feature in SQL Server 2014.

The documentation also contains instruction for running a demo workload which can be used to measure the performance of the sample on your system, and to contrast the performance of the new memory-optimized tables with traditional disk-based tables.

You can post feedback and questions about the sample on the SQL Server Samples Forum.

SQL Server 2014 and the DBA: Building Bridges

 Guest blog post by: SQL Server MVP Denise McInerney – Vice President of Marketing for PASS and a Data Engineer at Intuit – began her career as a SQL Server DBA in 1998 and now applies her deep understanding of data to enable analytic solutions to business problems. She is founder of the PASS Women in Technology virtual chapter, a speaker at user group meetings and conferences, and blogs at select*from denisemc.views. You can follow her on Twitter at @denisemc06.

*     *     *     *     *

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge was a great image for promoting last week’s live webcast celebrating the launch of SQL Server 2014. Of course, it represents San Francisco, where Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, COO Kevin Turner, and Data Platform Group CVP Quentin Clark took the stage to highlight the new release’s features. But I think it’s also a metaphor for what the new capabilities foretell for SQL Server DBAs.

From the much-anticipated In-Memory OLTP engine (formerly code-named Hekaton) – with its promise of dramatically reducing I/O traffic jams and speeding application performance – to the new high-performance updateable columnstore index and enhanced scalability through improved Windows Server 2012 integration, much of the SQL Server 2014 message is about helping us build better, stronger, faster data-processing bridges.

But with the release’s integration of AlwaysOn Availability Groups with Windows Azure, smart SQL Server backup to a Windows Azure URL, and integration with the new Power BI for Office 365 cloud solution, we’re also talking about bridging our database capabilities – and technical skills – to the cloud and further into the data analytics world.

What does all this mean for us as SQL Server professionals? More than ever, our organizations need us to be an essential part of the team: bridging IT and business, better connecting data and the people who use it to make decisions, and adding value by building strong and flexible solutions custom-fit for our company’s needs.

As we prepare for this changing world of data, here are three areas to focus on:

  • Cloud and hybrid environments: On-premises SQL Server vs. the cloud isn’t the question anymore.  More and more, we’ll have data residing in both worlds. In Hybrid IT environments, we’ll play an important role in application architecture and design. We’ll also need to support on-premises and cloud-based performance tuning and monitoring, implement high availability and disaster recovery solutions, and more. The mission is still effective data management – wherever the data lives.
  • Relational and big data:As we gather and store increasingly more data and different types of data – including structured, unstructured, and streaming – we’ll be looking at another hybrid environment. This one will include SQL Server relational stores integrated with big data solutions such as Hadoop for storing and processing large data sets.
  • Data and business value: The purpose of collecting all this data is to use it to improve our products and services and better understand and serve customers. As data professionals, we need to be the champions of thinking end-to-end about how data can transform business – what Satya Nadella calls creating “a data culture.” It involves bringing business intelligence and analytics to everyone in our organizations, helping them understand the data they have, ask questions of it, and gain insights.

Change brings challenges but also the opportunity to learn and grow our careers. I encourage you to take advantage of the free resources available through PASS Virtual Chapters, your local user group, and PASS SQLSaturday events to learn how SQL Server 2014 and Microsoft’s data platform can help us get the most from our organizations’ data.

As SQL Server professionals, harnessing the power of data to solve business problems is really the heart of our job. We’re still guardians of data – but now we also need to be advocates for what data can do in our businesses.

Let’s go build some bridges.
– Denise

Progressive Insurance data performance grows by factor of four, fueling business growth online experience

At the Accelerate your Insights event last week, Quentin Clark described how SQL Server 2014 was now part of a platform that had in-built in-memory technology across all data workloads.  In particular with this release Microsoft has added in-memory Online Transaction Processing delivering breakthrough performance for applications in throughput and latency.

One of the early adopter customers of this technology is Progressive Insurance, a company that has long made customer service a competitive strength.  Central to customer service experience is the company’s policy-serving web app.  As it updated the app, Progressive planned to add its Special Lines business such as insuring motorcycles, recreational vehicles, boats, and even Segway electric scooters. However, Progressive needed to know that the additional workloads wouldn’t put a damper on the customer experience.

Progressive was interested in In-Memory OLTP capability, which can host online transaction processing (OLTP) tables and databases in a server’s working memory. The company tested In-Memory OLTP even before SQL Server 2014 became commercially available. Modifying the policy-serving app for the test was relatively straightforward, according to Craig Lanford, IT Manager at Progressive. 

The company modified eight natively compiled stored procedures, using already-documented code. In those tests, In-Memory OLTP boosted the processing rate from 5,000 transactions per second to 21,000—a 320 percent increase.

Lanford and his colleagues were delighted that the session-state database performance proved four times as fast with SQL Server 2014, adding “Our IT leadership team gave us the numbers we had to meet to support the increased database workload, and we far exceeded those numbers using Microsoft In-Memory OLTP”.  The company will use the throughput gain to support the addition of its Special Lines business to its policy-servicing app and session-state database. With its use of SQL Server 2014, Progressive can run a single, larger database reliably and avoid the cost of multiple databases.

You can read more about how Progressive is using SQL Server 2014 here.

Whether you’ve already built a data culture in your organization, or if you’re new to exploring how you can turn insights into action, try the latest enhancements to these various technologies: SQL Server 2014, Power BI for Office 365, Microsoft Azure HDInsight, and the Microsoft Analytics Platform System

Tune in tomorrow and accelerate your insights

Tomorrow’s the day! Tune in to hear from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, COO Kevin Turner, and Data Platform Group CVP Quentin Clark about Microsoft’s approach to data, and how the latest advancements in technology can help you transform data into action.

Who should watch?

Join us tomorrow morning at 10AM PDT if you like data or want to learn more about it. If you store it, you manage it, you explore it, you slice and dice it, you analyze it, you visualize it, you present it, or if you make decisions based on it. If you’re architecting data solutions or deciding on the best data technology for your business. If you’re a DBA, business analyst, data scientist, or even just a data geek on the side, join the live stream.

What will I hear about?

Data infrastructure. Data tools. And ultimately, the power of data. From finding the connections that could cure cancer, to predicting the success of advertising campaigns, data can do incredible things. Join us online and get inspired. You’ll see how your peers are putting their data, big and small, to work.

From a product perspective, we’ll celebrate the latest advancements in SQL Server 2014, Power BI for Office 365, SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse, and Microsoft Azure HDInsight. And ultimately, we’ll explore how these offerings can help you organize, analyze, and make sense of your data – no matter the size, type, or location.

Where do I sign up?

Mark your calendar now or RSVP on Facebook so you’re ready to go tomorrow. When streaming goes live, you can join us here for all the action live from San Francisco.

When do things get started?

Tomorrow, April 15, at 10AM PDT. Be there.

See you tomorrow!