Microsoft SQL Server 2014 builds on the mission-critical capabilities delivered in the prior release by providing breakthrough performance, availability and manageability for your mission critical applications. SQL Server 2014 delivers new in-memory capabilities built into the core database for OLTP and data warehousing, which complement our existing in-memory data warehousing and BI capabilities for the most comprehensive in-memory database solution in the market.

SQL Server 2014 also provides new disaster recovery and backup solutions with Windows Azure, enabling customers to use their existing skills with the on-premises product offerings to take advantage of Microsoft’s global datacenters. In addition, SQL Server 2014 takes advantage of new Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 capabilities to give you unparalleled scalability for your database application in a physical or virtual environment.

Here are some of the notable new features in SQL Server 2014

Several new features have been introduced to improve database performance.

In-Memory OLTP. 
This is a new feature which can help resolve issues in high concurrency situations.
the new In-Memory OLTP Engine (formerly code-named Hekaton) will provide OLTP performance improvements by moving selected tables into memory. The In-memory OTLP Engine works with commodity hardware and won’t require any application code changes.  There are some requirements to get it working but for those whose problem this solves, it is very cool.

Updatable ColumnStore Indexes.
This provides the ability to load or delete data from existing ColumnStore indexes. Previously once a ColumnStore index was created you could not directly add, delete, or modify data in the table. In order to update table information the index needed to be dropped or disabled and then the index rebuilt.

Buffer Pool Extension to Solid State Drives (SSDs).
This is new functionality providing the ability of each node to have its own SSD or SSD Array for buffering, and thus performance capabilities can be greatly increased.
Resource Management. Along with CPU and Memory management which were already available in SQL Server, SQL Server 2014 adds the ability to control the IO usage for a resource pool.
Improved Query Performance. Another new feature for performance improvement wherein query processing has been enhanced and split into a two-step process: decision making and execution.

Improved Integration with Windows Server 2012
SQL Server 2014 will also provide support for Windows Server 2012’s new Storage Spaces feature. Storage Spaces enables you to create pools of tiered storage that can improve application availability and performance. SQL Server 2014’s Resource Governor can take advantage of Windows Server 2012’s automated storage tiering. Plus, you can use the Resource Governor to manage and limit application IO utilization.

Scalability & High Availability
AlwaysOn Secondaries. Provides for up-to eight secondaries (double the 2012 option).
More Reliable Secondaries. Previously several factors could result in secondaries being dropped offline. Those areas have been addressed.
Scale to the Cloud. SQL 2014 allows for Hybrid systems as you can now use Azure VMs as AlwaysOn AG replicas.

Improved Backup Options
Backup to Azure. With this new feature of backup to Azure, backups can be stored offsite (in the cloud) providing safe storage of backup data.
Smart Backup to Azure. Another new backup feature is Smart Backups. With Smart Backups SQL Server determines whether a full or incremental backup is needed and backs up accordingly to Azure.   

In summary
Microsoft has upped the ante again in the database arena providing more features, scalability and capability. The improved features in 2014 combined with their other database offerings such as HD Insight (Hadoop) and the high-performance PDW make for an impressive array of data offerings for companies both large and small.