As referred in the SQL 2014 RTM announcement on this day SQL Server 2014 is available for download.
You can start from SQL 2014 Evaluation Edition which can offer the insights into the product evaluation for next 180 days. This will be the best option on a new machine where you can test the features to see you can deploy 2014 version in your data platform. Not only that you can also view and download Virtual Labs for SQL 2014 and my favorite is SQL Server 2014 What’s new for DBAs virtual lab.
Just a revision on what’s new and features of SQL Server 2014:
- In-Memory OLTP: Provides in-memory OLTP capabilities built into core SQL Server database to significantly improve the transactional speed and throughput of your database application. In-Memory OLTP is installed with the SQL Server 2014 Engine without requiring any additional actions and allows in-memory performance benefits without rewriting your database application or refreshing your hardware. In-Memory OLTP allows you to access the other rich features in SQL Server, while taking advantage of in-memory performance.
- In-Memory Updateable ColumnStore: Provides higher compression, richer query support and updateability of the existing ColumnStore for data warehousing workloads giving you even faster load speed, query performance, concurrency, and even lower price per terabyte.
- Extending Memory to SSDs: Seamlessly and transparently integrates solid-state storage into SQL Server by using SSDs as an extension to the database buffer pool, allowing more in-memory processing and reducing disk IO.
- Enhanced High AvailabilityEncrypted Backup: Provides encryption support for backups, on-premise and in Windows Azure.
- New AlwaysOn features: Availability Groups now support up to 8 secondary replicas that remain available for reads at all times, even in the presence of network failures. Failover Cluster Instances now support Windows Cluster Shared Volumes, improving the utilization of shared storage and increasing failover resiliency.
- Improved Online Database Operations: Includes single partition online index rebuild and managing lock priority for table partition switch, reducing maintenance downtime impact.
- IO Resource Governance: Resource pools now support configuration of minimum and maximum IOPS per volume, enabling more comprehensive resource isolation controls.
- Hybrid Scenarios:
- SQL Server Backup to Azure: Provides management and automation of SQL Server backups (from on-premise and Windows Azure) to Windows Azure storage.
- AlwaysOn with Azure Secondaries: Easily add replicas in Windows Azure to on-premise Availability Groups.
- SQL XI (XStore Integration): Supports SQL Server Database files (from on-premise and Windows Azure) on Windows Azure Storage blobs.
- Deployment Wizard: Easily deploy on-premise SQL Server databases to Windows Azure.