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SQL Azure Reporting CTP, SQL Azure Data Sync CTP and SQL Azure Q4 2011 Service Release Announced

On Day 2 at the SQL PASS Summit 2011, Microsoft announced a number of updates including SQL Azure. Key announcements on SQL Azure included the availability of new CTPs for SQL Azure Reporting and SQL Azure Data Sync, as well as a look at the upcoming Q4 2011 Service Release for SQL Azure.

SQL AzureThe SQL Azure Q4 2011 Service Release will be available by end of 2011 and is aimed at simplifying elastic scale out needs.

Key features include:

  • The maximum database size for individual SQL Azure databases will be expanded 3x from 50 GB to 150 GB.
  • Federation. With SQL Azure Federation, databases can be elastically scaled out using the sharding database pattern based on database size and the application workload. This new feature will make it dramatically easier to set up sharding, automate the process of adding new shards, and provide significant new functionality for easily managing database shards.
  • New SQL Azure Management Portal capabilities. The service release will include an enhanced management portal with significant new features including the ability to more easily monitor databases, drill-down into schemas, query plans, spatial data, indexes/keys, and query performance statistics.
  • Expanded support for user-controlled collations.

New Features for SQL Server Management Studio

New features for SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) were also demonstrated at the PASS Summit yesterday. Specifically, we will be introducing new capabilities for SSMS that will enable on-premises databases (data and schema) to be moved directly to SQL Azure or to Windows Azure Storage for storage in the cloud, further enhancing hybrid IT scenarios. The updated version of SSMS with these features will first ship in SQL Server 2012 and will also be offered on the web as a free download early next year. We will provide future blog posts when the tool updates are available for download, so stay tuned!SQL Azure Reporting CTP

Previously only available to a limited number of customers, today’s updated CTP release is broadly available and delivers on the promise of BI capabilities in the cloud.

“SQL Azure Reporting is a flexible and cost effective cloud-based reporting capability that allows organizations to develop and rapidly deploy reports that deliver insights to business users,” Microsoft state.

Adding, “With SQL Azure Reporting, organizations can use a familiar platform and tools to deliver a cloud-based reporting capability that complements on premises reporting at a lower upfront cost.”

Key new features include:

  • Improved availability and performance statistics.
  • Ability to self-provision a SQL Azure Reporting server.
  • Windows Azure Management Portal updates to easily manage users and reports deployed to the SQL Azure Reporting.
  • Availability of the service in all Microsoft Windows Azure datacenters around the world.
  • Official Microsoft support in this new CTP release.
  • Greater access for customers with no separate registration process required to use the new CTP.

This new CTP is broadly available to all SQL Azure customers and does not have a limited sign-up capacity; simply visit the Windows Azure Management Portal and start using the SQL Azure Reporting CTP today!

SQL Azure Data Sync CTP

SQL Azure Data Sync is a cloud-based data synchronization service built on the Microsoft Sync Framework technologies. Instead of writing complex custom logic to replicate data between databases, SQL Azure Data Sync is a service with a point-and-click interface to setup your synchronization rules and schedules.

The service provides bi-directional data synchronization and data management capabilities allowing data to be easily shared across SQL Azure databases within multiple data centers.

SQL Azure Data Sync simplifies the ability to connect on-premises and cloud environments to enable hybrid IT environments.

Sync Framework 2.1 and the October 4.0 CTP already provide a basic application framework to synchronize databases from different sources and editions, but most customers would like a out of box solution that works in most cases and leave specific scenarios to the developers.

In addition, SQL Azure Data Sync enables one-way synchronization and bi-directional synchronization including sync-to-hub and sync-from-hub synchronizations spanning both SQL Azure and on-premise SQL Server instances running in your private data centers.

SQL Azure Data Sync

Key new features include:

  • Greater ease of use with new Management Portal:
  • The new Management Portal provides a rich graphical interpretation of the databases being synchronized and is used to configure, manage and monitor your sync topology.
  • Greater flexibility with enhanced filtering and sync group configuration:
    • Filtering: Specify a subset of table columns or specific rows.
    • Sync group configuration: Specify conflict resolution as well as sync direction per group member.
  • Great access for all users:
    • The new CTP is available to all SQL Azure users for trial and does not require a separate registration process.

    SQL Azure Data Sync is now available for trial directly within the Windows Azure Management Portal.  This new release replaces the CTP2 release and existing users of SQL Azure Data Sync CTP2 should migrate to the new release. The new CTP is open to all SQL Azure subscribers and does not require a separate registration, so you can start using this release.

    Microsoft is also plans to begin rolling out new updates to its Office 365 (and its Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online components), and Dynamics CRM Online services in the coming weeks/months.

    SharePoint Online Q4 Service Release (due for staged rollout in late October through November 2011)

    New features include:

    • Business Connectivity Services (BCS). Enables connecting to external systems via web service based endpoints (for customers with enterprise plans only)
    • Windows Live ID support. Allows Office 365 tenant administrators to invite external users to a site collection. They sign in with a Windows Live ID-based user name and password
    • Windows Phone 7 “Mango” (official support and http:// connectivity). Ability of small-business and enterprise Office 365 customers to access SharePoint Online lists and document libraries from their Windows Phone
    • Recycle Bin. Self-service ability to recover sites from a site collection’s recycle bin
    • Browser support. Adds “official” support for the Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) and Google Chrome browsers

    Lync Online Q4 Service Release (due in Q4 2011)

    New features include:

    • Support for multitenant hosting
    • Voice support for mobile information workers
    • Interoperability with Exchange Online voice mail

    Dynamics CRM Online service (due in Q4 2011)

    New features include:

    • Social activity streams/feeds (similar to Facebook and Salesforce’s Chatter)
    • Integration with Office 365
    • Disaster recovery functionality
    • Federated identity support (via Windows Live ID, akin to what’s coming in Q4 SharePoint Online update)

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