Thursday, October 15, 2009

SQL Azure Now Feature Complete for PDC 2009 Release

The SQL Azure team sent the following e-mail on 7/13/2009 at about 7:40 PM to all registrants of the SQL Azure Database (SADB) August 2009 CTP release. George Huey also released a new v1.0 of the SQL Azure Migration Wizard that supports the Bulk Copy Protocol (BCP), which is described at the end of this post.

• Updated 10/15/2009 11:00 AM PT for Zach Skyles Owens’ post of 10/14/2009 about the new SADB-related components in updated Windows Azure Training Kit (see end of post).

• Updated 10/14/2009 11:00 AM PT for more information on the SQL Azure team site (see below).

SQL Azure [Database] Update and Important Next Steps

We’re talking this extraordinary step of sending email directly to the account contacts of record for the SQL Azure Database CTP (you!) in order to let you know of a couple of exciting things about the service upgrade that just completed. We are proud to announce that we are feature complete for PDC ’09 and we’re lighting up the first of our production environments to make it simple and easy to transition to the production system as we drive toward commercial availability. This will have a small impact on your use of the current CTP service. Here is a quick summary:

  • You are invited to begin using an updated CTP of the SQL Azure Database service. Your sign-up information has already been pre-provisioned on the new service.
  • This updated CTP of the SQL Azure Database service has been deployed to a new production cluster and is accessed through a different service URL (e.g. <servername>
  • The previous CTP of the service remains available and unchanged, except for a change to the URL of the developer portal.

Please read on for further details.

SQL Azure Service Update


As we get ready for the Professional Developer’s Conference (PDC) in Nov ’09, we are bringing on line the first of a new set of data center clusters that we’ll use to support the commercially available service.

This new cluster is now available for use by existing customers of the current CTP that we released last Aug.

In order to make this transition as easy as possible, we’ve pre-provisioned accounts on the new cluster for all existing customers of the August CTP. Also, we’ve left the August CTP service up and running in parallel. The August CTP will remain available and unchanged for now, although we will decommission the August CTP service by the end of this year (Dec ’09).

One side effect of this new environment is that we’ve had to re-purpose the developer portal URL in support of this new environment. The old developer portal is available at Use this (and the current service URL at <server> to continue to get access to the August CTP environment.

One key benefit of migrating to the new data center cluster will be that because this will be the same machine cluster we’ll use for the commercially available service, all servers and databases in this environment will automatically carry over to the commercially available service. All you will need to do is to update your billing information as part of signing up for a commercial offer. More information on when and how to complete this sign off process will be sent later this fall as part of our launch messaging.

Please start using the new service! Here’s how:

How to move to our Production Service: 

Step 1) Visit – to activate your account and create a new server and databases. As noted above, we’ve already pre-provisioned your existing account information so you don’t need a new invitation code.  Be sure to use the same LiveID associated with your SQL Azure Database CTP account when logging in.

If you would like to access and view your August CTP server and databases, you can still do that, using the developer portal available at this address:

Step 2) Any data stored in the August CTP service that you would like to take forward into the commercially available service can be migrated to the new production cluster using SSIS.  A walkthrough of how to do this can be found in the Windows Azure Training Kit.   See the “Moving Data Into and Out Of SQL Azure using SSIS” topic for more details. The training kit also has details on using bulk copy (BCP).

Some key differences:

As part of this rollout we are introducing some new features for the CTP service. You will need to be aware of two of them as you begin using the new service:

Firewall – This update introduces a new firewall feature which will allow only the hosts that you specify to access your SQL Azure server and databases. This feature is set to deny all hosts by default so you must visit the SQL Azure Portal to configure the IP address ranges of the hosts you wish to allow before you can connect to your new servers or databases.

Database Edition Selection – This update allows you to choose which database edition is created during the database provisioning process. This is surfaced both in the SQL Azure Portal and in the T-SQL Create Database statement. The syntax is as follows:

CREATE DATABASE foo (MAXSIZE = 1GB) For a Web Edition Database


CREATE DATABASE foo (MAXSIZE = 10GB) For a Business Edition Database

As of 10/14/2009 8:30 AM PT, no further information was available on the SQL Azure Team blog. I’ll update this post as new information becomes available on the blog.

• More Information on 10/14/2009 from the SQL Azure Team Blog

… When SQL Azure Database becomes generally available, this environment will automatically roll over into a fully supported production environment and all your databases and data in this environment will be converted into an active subscription to the SQL Azure Database service based on the subscription offer you choose.

Note: Existing servers and databases that you created in the August CTP environment will still be fully accessible and available through the current service URL (<servername>, in parallel with the October CTP environment. The developer portal for the August CTP environment will also continue to be available, although through a new URL ( ). As noted above, the previous URL will be re-used to support the new production environment.

As the August CTP is running on hardware below our production standard, that environment will not roll over into a production environment as part of our go-live plans. That environment will be decommissioned by the end of the year (Dec ’09).

We invite you to begin to use the new cluster to take advantage of all the cool new relational features available as part of the updated service!

The key new features included in this October CTP are listed below.

Firewall Support – The new firewall features allows a customer to specify an allow list of IP address that can access their SQL Azure Server. Security is a concern for companies looking at storing data in the cloud and with this new feature you can rest assured that only hosts you specify will be allowed to connect. Please be aware that your firewall will deny all connections by default, so please go to the SQL Azure Portal and configure your allow list so that existing clients can continue to connect.

Support for Bulk Insert – One of the pain points we heard from customers was around the speed at which they were able to load data into the system. We have taken this feedback and have enabled support for Bulk Insert. This will improve the rate at which you are able to load data into the system by a few orders of magnitude. This change also enables you to use the SqlBulkCopy class from within ADO.Net

Database Edition Selection – This allows you to select which SQL Azure Database edition (Web Edition (up to 1GB relational database) or Business Edition (up to 10GB relational database)) is created during the database provisioning process. This is surfaced both in the SQL Azure Portal and in the T-SQL Create Database statement. For example, to create a Business Edition database the T-SQL command would be as follows:

            CREATE DATABASE foo (MAXSIZE = 10GB)

Updates to SQL Azure Portal – We have made numerous functionality changes and bug fixes in the portal. These include database edition selection when creating a database in the portal, viewing the size of your database and also the ability to configure your firewall settings.

Additional T-SQL Support – Due to customer demand, we have enabled support for additional T-SQL statements. The complete list can be found on MSDN and it includes support for items like Synonyms, Types, Table Value Parameters, additional systems views and more.

Updated SQL Azure Server Properties – We have finalized the internal SQL Server engine properties so you can reliably tell if you are connecting to an instance of SQL Server on premises or connecting to SQL Azure in the cloud. The major changes include a new value for Edition of “SQL Azure” and a new Engine Edition value of “5”. For further details please refer to the SQL Azure documentation on MSDN.

Updated SQL Azure Error Messages – We have enhanced the error messages returned should an error occur. Our goal to ensure that should you experience an error, the message received is meaningful and actionable by you.

Consuming data stored in SQL Azure Database is also critical, so as a reminder, the updated SQL Server Driver for PHP 1.1 with support for SQL Azure Database was recently released and can be found here. In addition to SQL Azure Database support, this release includes significant enhancements for PHP development including support for PHP version 5.3, performance improvements, and new features such as scrollable results sets, row count, and support for UTF-8 encoding. If you would like to find out more, you can check out the documentation on MSDN. Also, you should download the refreshed Windows Azure Platform Training Kit that reflects the changes in this October CTP.

A good portion of the new features and enhancements for this CTP came to us as requests from the user community. We listen to and appreciate your feedback as it helps us to build a better platform that will provide you critical capabilities for your database workloads. Please keep the feedback coming.

When we started this journey our goal was to extend the SQL Server Platform to the cloud and to provide our customers with relational database features and availability with cost efficiencies. We are on track to deliver that goal at PDC. There is much more to come as we continue to light up new scenarios and experiences. There will be more on this at PDC ‘09 and the SQL Azure team hopes to see everyone there.


New version of the SQL Azure Migration Wizard Supports the Bulk Copy Protocol (BCP)

George Huey sent me the following message on 10/13/2009 regarding his updated SQL Server Migration Wizard (MigWiz) v1.0:

I just wanted to give you a heads up that the SQL Azure product group released another version of SQL Azure today.  With this new release, they support BCP.  I also released a new version of SQLAzureMW today that also supports BCP.  So, not only can you migrate your database objects, you can also migrate your data.

As always, feedback welcome.

The details are on CodePlex at SQL Azure Migration Wizard v1.0.

I’ll update my Using the SQL Azure Migration Wizard with the AdventureWorksLT2008 Sample Database post of 9/21/2009 and then the following two online-only chapters of Cloud Computing with the Windows Azure Platform as soon as possible:

  • Chapter 12: Managing SQL Azure Accounts, Databases, and DataHubs*"
  • Chapter 13: "Exploiting SQL Azure Database's Relational Features"

HTTP downloads of the two chapters’ current (oudated) version are available from the book's Code Download page.
* Content for managing DataHubs will be added when Microsoft releases a CTP of the technology, which is not in the October 2009 CTP.

Zach Skyles Owens announces Windows Azure Platform Training Kit – October Update is Live in this 10/14/2009 post to his private blog:

Aligned with the SQL Azure October CTP release today we have published an updated version of the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit here.

While the Download Center servers are being replicated you will want to make sure the title of the page contains “October Update” and the File Name is “WindowsAzurePlatformKitOctober2009.exe”.

This update contains a few new sections with the Hands On Lab for dealing with the firewall and how to use BCP to move data into SQL Azure.  The training kit contains the following SQL Azure related content.


  • Introduction to SQL Azure
  • Building Applications using SQL Azure
  • Scaling Out with SQL Azure


  • Preparing your SQL Azure Account
  • Connecting to SQL Azure
  • Managing Logins and Security in SQL Azure
  • Creating Objects in SQL Azure
  • Migrating a Database Schema to SQL Azure
  • Moving Data Into and Out Of SQL Azure using SSIS
  • Building a Simple SQL Azure App
  • Scaling Out SQL Azure with Database Sharding

Hands On Labs

  • Introduction to SQL Azure
  • Migrating Databases to SQL Azure
  • Building Your First SQL Azure App

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