The SQL Azure team has put together a set of questions and answers in their blog post, SQL Azure Database Now Generally Available – SLAs in effect.
Q: What is Microsoft SQL Azure Database?
A: Microsoft SQL Azure™ Database is a cloud-based relational database service built on SQL Server technologies. It provides a highly available, scalable, multi-tenant database service hosted by Microsoft in the cloud. SQL Azure Database enables easy provisioning and deployment of multiple databases. Developers do not have to install, setup, patch or manage any software. High Availability and fault tolerance is built-in and no physical administration is required. SQL Azure Database supports Transact-SQL (T-SQL). Customers can leverage existing knowledge in T-SQL development and a familiar relational data model for symmetry with existing on-premises databases. SQL Azure Database provides great value by saving on development costs by working with existing toolsets and providing symmetry with on-premises and cloud databases. For more information view this video.
Q: What are the key features are included in SQL Azure Database?
A: SQL Azure Database supports most of the features and data types found in SQL Server 2008. SQL Azure supports many SQL Server 2008 data types; it does not support data types that have been deprecated from SQL Server 2008. For more information about data type support in SQL Azure, see Data Types (SQL Azure Database). Many SQL Server Transact-SQL statements have parameters that allow you to specify file groups or physical file paths. These types of parameters are not supported in SQL Azure because they have dependencies on the physical configuration. In such cases, the command is considered partially supported. For more information about Transact-SQL support, see Transact-SQL Support (SQL Azure Database). Analysis Services, Replication, Reporting Services, and Service Broker are currently not supported.
A variety of SQL Server tools can be used with SQL Azure Database including SSMS, SMO, SSIS, Visual Studio, SQLCMD. Click here for more details
Q: How does Microsoft differentiate SQL Azure Database from Microsoft SQL Server?
A: SQL Azure Database is built on SQL Server database technologies that are used for running mission-critical applications in the enterprise as well as on the Web. Since SQL Server is a broad information platform that can handle all data types from birth to archival, there are many associated capabilities that our information platform provides. SQL Azure Database is exposing a large subset of these relational capabilities and extending them as services in the cloud.
These services feature built-in high scale, availability, and self-management, and are provided in a way that makes it easy for customers and partners to consume over the Internet. Although SQL Azure in its first iteration exposes only the core RDBMS capabilities of what is in the full SQL Server information platform, Microsoft expects these to increase over time, with likely future features including Reporting, Analytics, ETL and other premium services etc. SQL Server and SQL Azure share some technologies and will share some innovations bilaterally.
Q: How is SQL Azure Database different from working with any hosted database?
A: SQL Azure Database provides highly available, scalable, multi-tenant database service hosted by Microsoft in the cloud. SQL Azure Database is self-managing and enables easy provisioning and deployment of multiple databases. Developers do not have to install, setup, patch or manage any software. High Availability and fault tolerance is built-in and no physical administration of hardware, storage or servers is required. SQL Azure Database supports Transact-SQL (T-SQL). Customers can leverage existing knowledge in T-SQL development and a familiar relational data model for symmetry with existing on-premises databases. SQL Azure Database provides a strong value proposition through savings in the cost of development by working with existing toolset and providing symmetry with on-premises and cloud database
With hosted databases, developers are still responsible for installing, updating and managing operating systems and database software. Additionally, hosted database solutions have to manually configure high availability and fault tolerance. SQL Azure Database provides all this for you as part of the service.
For more information about SQL Azure, see SQL Azure on MSDN.
The Windows Azure platform includes
– Windows Azure: operating system as an online service
– Microsoft SQL Azure: fully relational cloud database solution
– Windows Azure platform AppFabric: makes it simpler to connect cloud services and on-premises applications
For information on how the MSDN Subscription benefits to help you get started, see Windows Azure Platform Benefits for MSDN Subscribers. For pricing and special offers, see Pricing Info.
Bruce D. Kyle
ISV Architect Evangelist | Microsoft Corporation
Special thanks to David Robinson.