Click here to close now.


API Journal Authors: Flint Brenton, John Basso, David Dodd, Jason Bloomberg, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Linux Containers

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

SQL Data Services: Your Database in the Cloud

This will really make sharing of data in the cloud so much easier

One thing in the Microsoft cloud I find really interesting is SQL Data Services and Huron/Data Hub - SQL cloud sync service, one of the “cloud” offerings I believe has lots of potential and will really make sharing of data in the cloud so much easier.

I had the pleasure to sit down and talk about this subject with Liam Cavanagh, Sr. Program Manager at Microsoft, with the SDS/Huron team, and get some insights about the current state and the future of this remarkable new technology. In this article I’ll talk about SQL Data Services, and I’ll follow up with one about Data Hub/Huron.

SQL Data Services is at the core, nothing more than a (Microsoft SQL) database-as-a-service offering from Microsoft, part of the Azure Services Platform. First thing you’ll find about SQL Data Services is that “is just SQL” (at least that’s how Microsoft is advertising it). And it is. You’re able to change your connection string from your local database to your cloud database and you can access the “cloud” SQL. You can use SQL Studio to run queries, create tables, everything (oh well, almost) you do locally. First version of SQL Data Services will support: tables, indexes, views, stored procedures, triggers, constraints, table variables, session temp tables etc. It will not support: distributed transactions or queries, CLR, Service Broker, Spatial, physical server or catalog DDL and views. Also, reporting services, Business Intelligence  services, will be available sometimes in the future. So far there’s no information for when some of the features not included in the first version will be available.

The initial commercial release will have some limitations on database size, most likely it will be around 10 GB. The limitation might be lifted on future releases, but for now will be there to stay. This limitation is mainly because Microsoft feels that this is a good size they can easily manage in the background: backups, moving the database from a server to another server, data recovery, etc. You can have as many databases you want, and let’s be honest, 10 GB is a lot of data to store.

Other limitation will have to do with the duration of transactions and resource load on the server hosting your data. Keep in mind that your data will be living on servers in Microsoft’s data centers, with data from other customers. Microsoft makes sure your data is secure (I’m sure we’ll see some guarantees in the SLA), but in order to maintain good multi-tenant practices it will have to throttle or otherwise make sure that all the databases on the server get enough resources to function properly. One of the techniques used is moving more active databases from a loaded server to an idle server.

Like with any other database, corruption of data can happen in the cloud database as well. Microsoft has mechanisms in place to recover from data corruption (mainly by keeping database replicas on multiple servers), however, they don’t provide any user level backup of the database (at least in the first version). As we’ve seen in some of the PDC 2008 presentations, in the future we will probably see database backup/restore and geo-replication (synchronous – replica set spans datacenters and asynchronous – independent replica sets in different datacenters).

There’s no surprise on how concurrency is handled in the cloud database, SDS has the same mechanism like any SQL Server. SQL Server supports optimistic (time-stamps or value comparisons) or pessimistic concurrency models. The presence of the “cloud” doesn’t change the model at all. If you’re really curious about the subject, here’s a link to some information about SQL Server 2008 Concurrency which essentially deals with how the SQL Server handles locking.

By having the database in the cloud, there’s going to be a latency when accessing it from your premises. Microsoft recommends running your applications that are using the database in the cloud on the Azure Platform, so the latency is minimal. When you deploy an application on Windows Azure and provision an SDS server, the two are going to be co-located, to provide low latency between the application and the data.

You will find out rather quickly that there’s no web based administration tool for managing your database in the cloud, but most probably some kind of web admin tool (Microsoft or third party) will be available in the near future.

The exact billing model is not yet available. However, we know from Nigel Ellis (the person responsible for the design, development, and release of SQL Data Services) that customers will be charged for the physical database size including all data and indexes defined.

What is SDS offering more than other SQL hosting services? High availability - your data is guaranteed, is available all the time. If you’re hosting SQL, in order to have high availability, you need to probably have two servers (mirrored) in case one goes down, the other one can take over. Also, SDS solution seems to be cost effective, since you pay just for what you’re using.

Initially SDS was built to use SOAP and REST protocols to access the data. With the switch to being a full relational database in the cloud, SDS is now using Tabular Data Stream (TDS) protocol, an application layer protocol used to transfer data between a database server and a client, initially developed by Sybase Inc. for their Sybase SQL Server relational database engine in 1984, and later by Microsoft in Microsoft SQL Server. There are already lots of drivers already implemented for this protocol: ODBC, OLEDB, ADO .NET, ODBC driver for PHP stack, you can access it from ruby, from linux using the Open TDS driver.

Of course, it will take some time for the platform to mature. It is the goal of this first version to address the needs of 95% or more web and departmental applications.

The SQL Data Services Community Technology Preview (CTP) will be available soon. You can join the mailing list in order to receive an e-mail notification when it will become available.

Related posts:

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Alin Irimie

Alin Irimie is a software engineer - architect, designer, and developer with over 10 years experience in various languages and technologies. Currently he is Messaging Security Manager at Sunbelt Software, a security company. He is also the CTO of RADSense Software, a software consulting company. He has expertise in Microsoft technologies such as .NET Framework, ASP.NET, AJAX, SQL Server, C#, C++, Ruby On Rails, Cloud computing (Amazon and Windows Azure),and he also blogs about cloud technologies here.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment process from development to production scenarios using Docker containers.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.