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Microsoft Hits General Availability Status with Azure SQL Data Warehouse

Microsoft on Tuesday said that its Azure SQL Data Warehouse platform is now generally available.

Billed as a database-as-a-service offering, Azure SQL Data Warehouse is Microsoft's enterprise-focused storage solution that scales both computing power and storage space based on need. According to the company, both provisioning the service and scaling up to 60 times the current computing power occurs within seconds.

"With a few clicks in the Azure Portal, you can launch a data warehouse, and start analyzing or querying data at the scale of hundreds of terabytes," wrote Joseph Sirosh, corporate VP for Microsoft's Data Group, in the announcement posted to the SQL Server Blog. "Our architecture separates compute and storage so that you can independently scale them, and use just the right amount of each at any given time. A very unique pause feature allows you to suspend compute in seconds and resume when needed while your data remains intact in Azure storage."

The ability to scale on the fly saves both on cost and can aid a growing business, as evident by an example given by mobile game developer PoundSand. "Getting featured in the iOS App Store was a big deal for a small company like ours as our users increased from 3,000 to 300,000 in 48 hours," said Paul Ohanian, CTO of PoundSand. "To keep up with this 100x increase in workload, we simply added data warehouse compute capacity by moving a slider and our services just scaled in minutes -- we didn't miss an insight."

Azure SQL Data Warehouse was built on a similar elastic massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture that is found in its SQL Server 2016 database to provide column stores for storage compression and instant analytics. It also ties in closely with Azure Machine Learning and Power BI to provide deep analytics reporting.

Microsoft is also touting the strong security features of the cloud-based database offering, including built-in auditing and threat detection, protection for data at rest with Microsoft's Transparent Data Encryption service offered in many of its other cloud-based services and advanced machine learning to detect and alert to potentially malicious query patters. The close integration with Azure Active Directory also provides stronger authentication control through the use of Single Sign-On and granular permissions capabilities to allow custom access on a per-user basis.

Azure SQL Data Warehouse entered a limited preview in late June of 2015 and opened up to a wider audience in October 2015, with thousands of customers already on board before today's general availability announcement. Microsoft is offering new customers a chance to evaluate the service with a free $200 credit trial, available here.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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