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Microsoft Tool Eases Management of Cloud Databases

Microsoft yesterday released a rough-around-the-edges CTP of a SQL Azure database management tool code-named "Houston," designed to let Web devs easily create and manipulate data-driven apps in the cloud.

"Project 'Houston' provides a Web-based database management tool for basic database management tasks like authoring and executing queries, designing and editing a database schema and editing table data," said Microsoft's David Robinson in the Azure Team Blog announcing the release.

Users can go to SQL Azure Labs to access the CTP of the Sliverlight-based tool, previewed at PDC09 and updated at MIX in April.

If you do, however, be prepared to deal with the usual hiccups in a Community Technology Preview. Robinson listed 19 "issues" with the CTP, ranging from not being able to reopen the Start page to zoom-related browser display problems.

Other bugs and suggestions have been submitted to the feedback page, including one complaining that the keyboard shortcuts don't behave as they do in SQL Server Management Studio, the tool previously used to manage databases in Microsoft's cloud (though the poster did say, "I understand that it's beta, so won't complain too much").

SQL Azure team member Liam Cavanagh, though, sees Houston as a great improvement over SSMS in regard to Data Sync Management. He said that prior to Houston, if he wanted to work with a customer who wanted to try Data Sync Management, the user had to install SSMS. "Now with Microsoft Project Code-Named 'Houston,' people can go directly to this Web-based management tool and start creating their SQL Azure databases without installing anything," he said in a blog posting.

Cavanagh expounds more on "Extending SQL Server Data to the Cloud using SQL Azure Data Sync" in a video tutorial. Other instructional videos about Houston can be viewed on TechNet.

Cavanagh also lauded the increased performance over SSMS. Because Houston is hosted on the SQL Azure data centers (just one so far), the latency is reduced from that experienced with SSMS, "which in many cases has far greater distance to communicate with my SQL Azure database," he said.

So check it out and let me know what you think. Comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 07/22/2010 at 1:15 PM


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