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Top Five New Features in SQL Server 2012

What's New in Denali?


Microsoft recently released the first Community Technical Preview (CTP) of the newest version of SQL Server, code-named Denali.  Three years after the release of SQL Server 2008, this new version of the popular database platform promises several exciting new features.

1. SQL Server AlwaysOn Technology

The new High Availability and Disaster Recovery (HADR) features of Denali will offer a vast improvement over the database mirroring capabilities of SQL Server 2008.  AlwaysOn allows you to create availability groups of databases that can be failed over simultaneously.  This is especially important when you wish to fail over interdependent applications that rely upon more than one database.  AlwaysOn also allows you to create active secondary servers, making use of the redundant databases for part of your read workload.

2. Ad Hoc Query Paging

The ad hoc query paging enhancements to TSQL add the OFFSET and FETCH keywords to the ORDER BY clause, allowing you to specify the number of rows you wish to retrieve from a long result set and page through those results in a manner specified in the query.

3. Column Based Query Accelerator

This one’s still wrapped in a bit of mystery, but it appears to be an enhancement designed to speed up data warehouse query performance.  Here’s a quote from Microsoft: “Column-Based Query Accelerator will help dramatically improve query performance ~10x and reduce performance tuning through interactive experiences with data for near instant response times and streamlined setup which removes the need to build summary aggregates.”

4. FileTable

The FileTable is a neat bridge between databases and the operating system allowing database users to directly access unstructured data stored in the Windows file system.  Each FileTable uses a predefined schema to access a hierarchy of directories and files stored in the file system.  Each row in the FileTable corresponds to a single directory or file in the file system.  Files can be modified either through SQL Server or through Windows and updates are reflected in both places.

5. Business Intelligence: Project Crescent

The results of Microsoft’s Project Crescent are included in Denali.  This new technology, based upon Silverlight, allows business users unprecedented access to interact with business intelligence data.  Crescent takes the business intelligence technology that PowerPivot brought to Excel and extends it to the browser with some great enhancements, including data storyboarding that can be exported to PowerPoint.

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