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The charter of the Database Group at Microsoft Research Redmond is to increase the usefulness of database system technology to users by creating, extending, and applying database technology. To that end, we consult with product groups at Microsoft and take part in exploratory research projects in several data management systems topics. See our current projects list for an overview of our active research areas.

The Database group has a long tradition of building systems as part of our research. Several of our projects have contributed major technical innovations to Microsoft products. Examples include the Hekaton main-memory OLTP engine, SQL Server Apollo column storage, and the StreamInsight event processing system.

Selected Professional Activities

We actively participate in the database research community. Current activities include the following Conferences activities, and Editorships and Board Memberships:

Major Conferences

Editorships and Board Memberships

Current Projects
  • Big Data
    Businesses today operate on the monitor-mine-manage (M3) cycle: they monitor and archive large amounts of data, which they mine to derive insights such as models. The models are used during the manage phase to add value to the business, e.g., by scoring the models with real-time data. This project looks at the broad area of platforms and applications for big data analytics, from a database-oriented perspective, in the context of achieving a frictionless M3 cycle.
  • Cipherbase = Encrypt(Database)
    One of the barriers to adoption cloud database technologies such as SQL Azure is data security and privacy. Data is a valuable asset to most organizations and storing the data in the cloud is often perceived as a security risk. This project investigates encryption as a mechanism to address such data security concerns. In particular, the goal of the project is to research, design, and build a comprehensive database system that supports encryption as a first class citizen.
  • Column store technology
    Column store technology can provide very substantial performance improvements on data warehousing workloads. This project investigated how to integrate columnar storage into SQL Server. The solution adopted was to add a new index type, columnstore index, that stores data column wise instead of row wise. Columnstore indexes first shipped in SQL Server 2012, significant enhancements were added in SQL Server 2014, and further improvements will be included in the next release.
  • Deuteronomy
    Traditionally, a DBMS kernel has recovery, concurrency control and access method code tightly bound together. We factor the kernel into a transactional component (TC) that knows about transactions and their “logical” concurrency control and undo/redo recovery, and a data component (DC) that knows about the access methods and supports a record oriented interface with atomic operations. The interaction of the components is governed by a contract or covenant.
  • Main-Memory Databases
    Current database systems were designed assuming that data resides on disk. This assumption is no longer valid; main memories have become sufficiently large that most OLTP databases can reside entirely in memory. In this project we investigate what architectural changes and new techniques are required to realize the potential for great performance improvements offered by storing data in main memory.
  • Streams
    The streams research project proposes novel architectures, processing techniques, models, and applications to support time-oriented queries over temporal and real-time data streams. This research shipped in 2010 as Microsoft StreamInsight - a commercial stream processing system that is part of SQL Server. Our currect focus areas include scale-out, high-availability, query optimization, and new platforms for stream processing.

Complete list of projects

Recent Publications


A number of interns visit the Database Group each summer. Some of our more recent interns are listed below:

  • Yupeng Fu
    University of California - San Diego
  • Hamid Mousavi
    University of California - Los Angeles 
  • Radu Stoica
  • Khai Tran
    University of Wisconsin
  • Wenchao Zhou
    University of Pennsylvania

Complete list of interns

Visiting Researchers

The Database Group frequently hosts visiting researchers from academic institutions; the more recent visitors are listed here:

  • Donald Kossmann
    (2013-2014, joining the group in 2014)
    ETH Zurich
  • David Maier (2007, 2010)
    Portland State University
  • Mohamed Mokbel (2008, 2010)
    University of Minnesota

Complete list of visiting researchers