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Getting Started with Windows Azure Platform



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Getting Started with Windows Azure Platform

Windows Azure Platform is a set of cloud services hosted in Microsoft data centers that allow you to develop new web applications or services.

The main components of this platform are:

bulletWindows Azure
bulletSQL Azure
bullet"Dallas" Information Marketplace

What is SQL Azure?

We found on MSDN the following definition of SQL Azure: "Microsoft SQl Azure extends SQL Server capabilities to the cloud.

SQL Azure provides SQL Azure Database, the relational database service provided by the Windows Azure Platform.

Benefits of SQL Azure.

Some benefits of SQL Azure are:

bulletReduced Management Overhead. No need to install software, service packs, hotfixes. Microsoft administer the physical hardware: drives, servers, storage.
bulletHigh availability and fault tolerance. Microsoft replicates your data and provides automatic failover.
bulletScalability. The service scale as your data grows.
bulletFamiliar to developers. Developers can use Transact-SQL, Microsoft Visual Basic, Microsoft Visual C#, Microsoft C++, Visual, SQL Server Management Studio, SQL Server 2008 Integration Services, ADO .Net provider for SQL Server, SQL Server 2008 Native Client ODBC driver, SQL Server 2008 Driver for PHP, JDBC, etc.
bulletRapid Development. Simplifies the process of creating, prototyping and deployment applications.
bulletSecurity. All access to your SQL Azure server is blocked by SQL Azure firewall by default. Your master database is read-only.
bulletEasy migration. If you are interested in migrating from MySQL to SQL Azure, SQL Server Migration Assistant for MySQL 1.0 makes the job easy.
bulletSupport for offline scenarios. Synchronize applications and client devices using SQL Azure and the Sync Framework.

Some limitations of SQL Azure.

At this time, SQL Azure has the following limitations:

bulletLinked Servers are not supported.
bulletMARS is not supported.
bulletMaster database is read-only.
bulletChange Tracking is not available.
bulletBulk Copy is not supported.
bulletNo SQL Server Agent.
bulletReplication is not supported.
bulletMaximun database size is 10 GB.
bulletRowGUID column is not supported.
bulletSQL Server error log is not available.
bulletYou cannot administer the physical hardware: drives, servers, storage.
bulletBackup and restore commands are not available, since the databases are replicated automatically.
bulletT-SQL statements that have dependencies on the physical configuration are not allowed.
bulletCommon Language Runtime not supported.
bulletDatabase mirroring not supported.
bulletDistributed queries not supported.
bulletSpatial data and indexes.
bulletSQL Server Service Broker is not supported.
bulletTrace flags not supported.
bulletSQL Server configurations options not allowed.


Creating a Windows Azure Platform account.

To be able to use SQL Azure, you need to create a Windows Azure Platform account, that will allow you to manage your subscriptions and invoices associated with those subscriptions.

To create your account, please visit Windows Azure Platform web site, and click on "Sign up now".

On the following page, if you would like to compare all offers available for the Windows Azure Platform, click on Details for "Windows Azure Platform Comparision Table".

For this article, we chose the offer "Windows Azure Platform Introductory Special" by clicking on Buy. You will have to provide a Windows Live ID to sign in to Microsoft Online Services Customer Portal.

Then you will have to create your profile, providing some personal information.

Make a click on the checkbox to accept service conditions, then proceed to click on the "Checkout" button.

Complete your payment information.


Complete the following information to activate the service.


Provide detailed information about the Service Administrator.

The following page shows the activation is still in progress.

A few minutes later, the service is activated.

Demos and Videos.

Windows Azure Training Kit. It contains hands-on labs, presentations, videos, demos, samples and tools.


Introducing SQL Azure Database.

SQL Azure.

SQL Azure FAQ.





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