The charter of the Microsoft Research Database Group is to increase the usefulness of database systems to users by creating, extending, and applying database technology. To that end, we consult with the database product groups at Microsoft and take part in exploratory research projects. We are located in Redmond, Washington, which is in the greater Seattle area.

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

  • 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 and significant enhancements will be included in the next release.
  • 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 This assumption is no longer valid; main memories have become sufficiently large that most OLTP databases can reside entirely in memory.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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Database Security and Compliance
    Much of the sensitive data in any organization is stored in a database system. There is a natural need to manage the security of the sensitive information. Our goal in this project is to develop tools to manage database security.
  • 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.
  • Phoenix Application Recovery
    The Phoenix goal is to improve application availability and error handling robustness. The project exploits database recovery techniques for enabling applications to survive system crashes. Two prototype systems have been built. Phoenix/ODBC provides persistent database sessions across database system failures. Phoenix/App provides persistent middle-tier applications across application server failures.
Recent Publications


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

  • Spyros Blanas
    University of Wisconsin
  • Yupeng Fu
    University of California - San Diego
  • Hamid Mousavi
    University of California - Los Angeles 
  • Aditya Parameswaran
    Stanford University
  • Radu Stoica
  • Khai Tran
    University of Wisconsin
  • Kostas Tzoumas
    Aarhus University
  • Di Wang
    Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Kevin Zhao
    University of California - San Diego 
  • Wenchao Zhou
    University of Pennsylvania

A more complete intern list is here.

Visiting Researchers

  • Suad Alagic (2000-2001)
    University of Southern Maine
  • Paolo Atzeni (2003)
    University of Rome 3
  • Christoph Freytag (2002)
    Humboldt University
  • Wolfgang Lehner (2004)
    Dresden University of Technology
  • David Maier (2007, 2010)
    Portland State University
  • Rene Miller (2001, 2002)
    University of Toronto
  • Mohamed Mokbel (2008, 2010)
    University of Minnesotoa
  • Elizabeth O'Neil (2001)
    University of Massachusetts, Boston
  • Patrick O'Neil (2001)
    University of Massachusetts, Boston
  • Lemonia Ragia (2003)
    University of Aachen
  • Erhard Rahm (2000)
    University of Leipzig
  • Betty Salzberg (1996, 2002)
    Northeastern University
  • Gerhard Weikum (1997, 2000, 2001)
    University of Saarland