Hekaton is the code name for Microsoft’s new OLTP database engine. This new OLTP (online transaction processing) engine enables a dramatic speed up database processing because it can store tables in memory.

With Hekaton, all reads are undertaken directly from memory, eliminating disk read waits and significantly improving OLTP database performance.  Microsoft has performed benchmark testing that suggests the drastic reduction in I/O with Hekaton means some OLTP-based apps will see up to a 20-fold improvement in performance.

OLTP database systems are commonly used in applications where large numbers of users are undertaking brief transactions.  Many businesses today are moving to OLTP systems for inventory control, financial transactions, customer relationship management and sales applications

The new Hekaton in-memory database engine is fully integrated into the core SQL Server DB engine, and at no additional cost, making upgrading to SQL Server 2014 both technically simpler and more affordable.

Microsoft has recently noted that the Hekaton moniker will be dropped once SQL Server 2014 is officially released later this year, and it will simply be referred to as the “In-Memory OLTP Engine” in the future.

Idera discusses SQL Server 2014 and Hekaton more in-depth in this Community Post.