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Introduction to SQL Azure

  • June 28, 2011
  • By Vipul Patel
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Introduction

Azure is Microsoft’s entry to the emerging competition in the cloud computing area. One of the services which is part of Azure is SQL Azure. SQL Azure is a cloud service which offers data processing and storage facilities. The SQL Azure platform is based upon SQL Server technology.

Selling Points for SQL Azure

  • By using cloud-based storage, businesses can reach new markets and customers by creating and offering SaaS (Software as a Service) applications. It allows enterprises to build web applications that can benefit from scale-out database capabilities.
  • Data consolidation – Having data in the cloud allows having a consolidated storage location avoid data segregation.
  • SQL Azure allows enterprise to focus on business instead of database management issues.
  • It allows enterprises to allow integrate data with analysis tools which build upon SQL server technologies which provide insight into business performance and processes.

Components of SQL Azure

SQL Azure is composed of the following components:

  • Database – The database is based upon SQL Server technologies, which means highly availability and scalable service with build-in fault tolerance.
  • SQL Azure Data Sync – SQL Azure includes a data synchronization services which can sync your data across cloud and on-premise sources. This is still in Community Technology Preview (as of writing this article). It allows bi-directional data synchronization.
  • SQL Azure Reporting - This component allows enterprises to use on-premise tools to develop and deploy reports. This is still in Community Technology Preview (as of writing this article). SQL Azure Reporting allows customers to access these reports from SQL Azure Management Portal or even from a business application. The top features of SQL Azure Reporting include Business Intelligence Design Studio and Report Builder.

Platform Tools

The following tools are supported to work with SQL Azure service.

Database Manager – An easy-to-use database management tool, it supports developing, deploying and managing your SQL Azure applications. It is available as part of the Windows Azure Platform Management Portal.

SQL Server Management Studio – SQL Server versions 2008 R2 and above come with SQL Server Management Studio which can directly connect to SQL Azure. Even the latest version of the free SQL Server Management Studio Express Edition will work with SQL Azure.

SQL Server migration Assistant – SQL Server Migration Assistant works with SQL Azure to migrate your data from Access, MySQL or Sybase formats.

SQL Server Integration Services – SSIS installations support importing and exporting data to SQL Azure.

BCP Utility – You can use the BCP utility for your bulk copy needs to/from SQL Azure to a user-specified format.

PowerPivot – You can use PowerPivot to do data analytics in Microsoft Excel against SQL Azure database.

Summary

In this article, we learned about the basic functionality provided by SQL Azure. I hope you have found the information useful.

About the author

Vipul Patel is a Software Engineer currently working at Microsoft Corporation. He is currently working in the Microsoft Lync team and has worked in the .NET team earlier in the Base Class libraries and the Debugging and Profiling team. He can be reached at vipul_d_patel@hotmail.com


Tags: Cloud Storage, Microsoft SQL Azure, Azure Cloud, overview

Originally published on http://www.developer.com.


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