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Microsoft promises 'first' relational cloud storage

Policy U-turn adds SQL Server network protocol

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Microsoft has revealed a single, simple change for its cloud platform that should make full SQL-Server functionality available almost overnight this year.

Microsoft said it will expose the Tabular Data System (TDS) protocol used in its popular SQL Server database as a service protocol in the online SQL Data Services (SDS) system. The first outing will be in a community technology preview (CTP) in the middle of the year with commercial availability planned for the second half of 2009.

Microsoft boasted the change would make SDS - part of its nascent Azure Services Platform - the industry's “first” relational database service, letting you run many existing SQL Server applications online.

The proof of such claims will be in the actual testing and deployment, once the service becomes available. Ahead of that, Microsoft set some limits on what it wants to see running on SDS.

Senior program manager David Robinson blogged Tuesday that Microsoft is "initially" targeting web and departmental applications with the change. So don't go putting your SAP HR system on SDS.

The company's SDS team revealed the change after Microsoft general manager for developer and platform evangelism Mark Hindsbro told The Reg last month Microsoft was working as fast as possible to add as many of the SQL Server features to Azure.

Using TDS will make help make available bread-and-butter SQL Server features in SDS such as tables, stored procedures, triggers, views and indexes in the cloud. You should also be able to access them using existing SQL Server and T-SQL tools and skills.

Robinson wrote: "Given the feature set we are planning to support in SDS v1, a majority of database applications will 'just work', allowing developers to target on and off-premises deployments with essentially the same code base."

The change follows pressure from early SDS testers and means Microsoft is dumping its original plan to slowly add relational functionality to the SOAP and REST web services layer around SDS.

The company plans to announce plans for decommissioning the existing REST-based SDS services with the introduction of the new TDS-based SDS service.

At this stage, it sounds like the separate-but-related Azure table storage will become the refuge for those who want to continue with the REST approach. Azure table storage will expose an ADO.NET-Data-Services compliant REST Service endpoint that Microsoft said would meet people's needs.

The company is devising guidance and a migration path for early adopters who jumped on the pre-relational architecture. ®

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