Recently I posted an entry explaining that you can develop in Windows Azure without having to connect to the main service on the Internet, using the Software Development Kit (SDK) which installs two emulators - one for compute and the other for storage. That brought up the question of the same kind of thing for SQL Azure.
The short answer is that there isn’t one. While we’ll make the development experience for all versions of SQL Server, including SQL Azure more easy to write against, you can simply treat it as another edition of SQL Server. For instance, many of us use the SQL Server Developer Edition - which in versions up to 2008 is actually the Enterprise Edition - to develop our code. We might write that code against all kinds of environments, from SQL Express through Enterprise Edition. We know which features work on a certain edition, what T-SQL it supports and so on, and develop accordingly. We then test on the actual platform to ensure the code runs as expected. You can simply fold SQL Azure into that same development process.
When you’re ready to deploy, if you’re using SQL Server Management Studio 2008 R2 or higher, you can script out the database when you’re done as a SQL Azure script (with change notifications where needed) by selecting the right “Engine Type” on the scripting panel:
(Thanks to David Robinson for pointing this out and my co-worker Rick Shahid for the screen-shot - saved me firing up a VM this morning!)
Will all this change? Will SSMS, “Data Dude” and other tools change to include SQL Azure? Well, I don’t have a specific roadmap for those tools, but we’re making big investments on Windows Azure and SQL Azure, so I can say that as time goes on, it will get easier. For now, make sure you know what features are and are not included in SQL Azure, and what T-SQL is supported. Here are a couple of references to help:
General Guidelines and Limitations: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee336245.aspx
Transact-SQL Supported by SQL Azure: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee336250.aspx
SQL Azure Learning Plan: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/buckwoody/archive/2010/12/13/windows-azure-learning-plan-sql-azure.aspx