When SQL Data Services (SDS) was first announced it was called SQL Server Data Services (SSDS) before they later changed the name. Judging by today’s announcement in blog entry The no spin details on the new SDS features on the SSDS blog they might have been well advised to leave well alone because the service is being dramatically altered in order to offer a true SQL Server instance in the cloud – SQL Server Data Services indeed!
A quick overview of the changes announced today:
- Authorities, Containers & Entities (ACE) are no more
- Querying using T-SQL
- Traditional database objects like tables, sprocs, triggers, views, indexes etc.…. all now provided
This is all very good news. The ACE model of SDS-past always felt like a second class citizen in the Azure Services platform; if you wanted the flexible entity storage that SDS offered why not just go for Windows Azure Table storage which was simpler and (probably) cheaper. With today’s announcement you now have the choice of flexible entity storage from Windows Azure or good old relational capabilities with T-SQL from SDS. I’m also pleased to see that Astoria will be used to offer a REST head – it never seemed like a good idea to me to have 2 competing and contrasting REST implementations from the same team (i.e. Data Platform division) and now that one of them is disappearing we can concentrate on Astoria (and, in turn, the Entity Framework).
One interesting thing to note is that this goes a long way to cannibalising their existing multi-billion-dollar-a-year SQL Server business. If you can cheaply host your data in the cloud why bother shelling out for an on-premise licence? I guess sometimes its best to usurp yourself rather than have someone else do it to you!
David Robinson who made the announcement today asked for questions and I have many.
- When? When are we going to be able to get to party on this?
- The blog entry states “If it works with SQL Server, it will largely work with SQL Data Services.”. That word “largely” bothers me a little – it suggests the functionality is going to be reduced slightly. Details please?
- What artificial limits will be in place?
- Will it be SQL Server 2005 or 2008? Enterprise or Standard?
- Do we have to pay per instance, per MB of storage or per bandwidth usage?
- Will we be able to connect to our cloud instances from SQL Server Management Studio? And will we be able to buy just the client tools without an on-premise server license?
- Will replication between instances be offered to aid with BI?
- Will they be offering hosted SSIS/SSAS/SSRS?
- The blog entry states that only SQL authentication (username/password) will be offered initially. Can we assume that eventually the Microsoft Services Connector will be used to offer Windows Authentication?
- Will we have the option to expose a REST head using Astoria as part of SDS’s offerings (i.e. at the flick of a switch) or will we have to implement Astoria separately ourselves on Windows Azure?
SDS evangelist Zach Skyles Owens has recorded an interview with SDS Architect, Nigel Ellis which will be published on Channel 9 shortly after mix. That should be interesting so keep an eye out for it.