New SQL Azure Features Available

New features introduced to Microsoft’ Cloud data platform make it easier for customers to migrate away from on-premise deployments, according to David Robinson, SQL Azure senior program manager. In this regard, SQL Azure now features Multiple Active Results Sets, ALTER rename and Application and Multi-server management. The evolution of SQL Azure was announced at the end of the past week, and the new additions are now live for customers to leverage and test-drive.

“These news features include: MARS (Multiple Active Results Sets), which simplifies the application design process; ALTER rename process for symmetry in renaming databases; Application and Multi-server management for Data-tier Applications which further streamlines application design and enables deployments of database applications directly from SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 to SQL Azure for database deployment flexibility,” Robinson stated.

SQL Azure (formerly SQL Server Data Services and later SQL Services) is a cloud-based service from Microsoft offering data storage capabilities similar to Amazon S3 and Amazon Relational Database Service as a part of the Azure Services Platform. Unlike similar cloud-based databases, SQL Azure allows relational queries to be made against stored data, which can either be structured or semi-structured, or even unstructured documents. SQL Azure features querying data, search, data analysis and data synchronization.

SQL Azure uses Microsoft SQL Server as a backend, but it exposes only a subset of the data types — including string, numeric, date and boolean. It uses an XML-based format for data transfer. Like Microsoft SQL Server, SQL Azure uses T-SQL as the query language and Tabular Data Stream (TDS) as the protocol to access the service over internet. It does not provide a REST-based API to access the service over HTTP. Microsoft recommends using ADO.NET Data Services for this purpose.

Earlier this month, Microsoft expanded the global availability of the Windows Azure platform, which also includes SQL Azure. Both the Cloud operating system and the data store are now available to customers in 41 countries and regions worldwide, up from 21 when Windows Azure was initially introduced. Streamlining migration from on-premise to the Cloud is a strong focus for Microsoft, and, with the new SQL Azure features, the company aims to simplify design and deployment tasks for customers opting for hosted Database Management Systems (DBMS).

“Many customers have looked to SQL Azure as an alternative to MySQL due to the fact that it provides a simple way to offer a highly available and publicly accessible data store. A primary issue customers have faced in the migration process from a database such as MySQL is the ability to support multiple active resultsets (MARS),” Robinson added.

MARS, ALTER rename and Application and Multi-server management

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