Shaun Xu

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Shaun, the author of this blog is a semi-geek, clumsy developer, passionate speaker and incapable architect with about 10 years experience in .NET. He hopes to prove that software development is art rather than manufacturing. He's into cloud computing platform and technologies (Windows Azure, Aliyun) as well as WCF and ASP.NET MVC. Recently he's falling in love with JavaScript and Node.js.

Currently Shaun is working at IGT Technology Development (Beijing) Co., Ltd. as the architect responsible for product framework design and development.

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On the 9th Sep, the SQL Azure team announced that the new version of SQL Azure had just been release. In this version not only the SQL Azure engine had been upgraded, the SQL Azure Management Portal had been upgraded massively.

Below are the features and improvements available in this release:

  • Foundational updates for scalability and performance.
  • Co-administrator support, which enables customers to specify multiple database administrators.
  • Increased capability for using spatial data types, which makes it an ideal cloud database for location-aware cloud and mobile applications.
  • New SQL Azure Management Portal.

New Version of SQL Azure

The SQL Azure database engine had been upgraded to v11.0.XXXX.XX. Normally this will not impact any of our application that is using SQL Azure as the backend database. But if the application was relying on a specified version you should pay more attention.

To retrieve the current version of database engine, just use the standard T-SQL query as following.

   1: SELECT @@VERSION

Below is the query result on my SQL Azure database, which its version was 11.0.1467.26.

image

Another potential problem with this version upgrading would be the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). You need to patch the SSMS to SP1. The latest upgrade of SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 can be found here:

To verify if the version of your SSMS is satisfied with the current SQL Azure, just open the About window and make sure that the version number is equals or higher than 10.50.1777.0.

image

 

SQL Azure Import/Export CTP

I introduced how to use the Data-tier Application CTP2 to backup and restore the SQL Azure database to local disk or BLOB storage in one of my previous blog post. Now this feature had been included in the Developer Portal directly.

On the Windows Azure Developer Portal (WADD) when you select a SQL Azure database, you can just click the Import or Export button from the top toolbar, to perform the Data-tier Application import and export process. It will export your database to a single DACPAC file and store in the BLOB you specified in the dialog as the following.

image

And similarly, click the import button to import the DACPAC file from the BLOB to a new SQL Azure database. Currently you cannot import the file to an existing SQL Azure database.

 

New Toolbar on Developer Portal

As you can see in the screen captures above, in this release the toolbar on the SQL Azure part of the Developer Portal had been redesigned. It’s very easy to provision, remove servers and databases, and import, export your data.

image

But unfortunately, there’s no context menu available in this version.

 

SQL Azure Management Portal

Another new big feature in this release is the SQL Azure Management Portal (SAMP). I guess it was come from the Project Houston, which I introduced months ago. But now the SAMP brings a lot of new features to us.

To open up the SAMP just select a SQL Azure server or database and click the Manage button on the toolbar. The manage button under the Server section will let user configure the entire SQL Azure server, while the button under Database section will only for a specified database.

image

 

When launch the SAMP you will be asked to provide the logon and password of your SQL Azure server, and the database you are trying to connect would be optional if clicked the Server Manage button.

image

The SAMP, different from the old Project Houston, need you open the firewall IP of the machine you are using to connect. This means you need to add the firewall rule of current IP to make it work. The Microsoft said that, this is for the security reason. You should explicit define the IP you are trying to use even though trough the SAMP.

In my case, after added the local IP to the firewall rule, I was still being asked to open another IP to the firewall, which was very strange.

After pressed the Log on button, if everything is OK you will see the SQL Azure Management Portal.

Currently the SAMP only works with Silverlight 4. If you had the Silverlight 5 installed you must uninstall and rollback to 4. The MS said they will work hard to make it available with SL 5 soon.

image

There are 3 categories on the left hand side:

  • Overview: Display you SQL Azure server information and status.
  • Database Life Cycle: Manage the databases under this server.
  • Database Schema and Data: Design and view the schema, data in the databases under the server.

The features and functionalities are very straight forward so I don’t want to dig into every of them. As you can see the developer can design the database through the visual designer.

image

Create and execute a store procedure is also very easy, as the following.

image

 

Summary

This release of SQL Azure brings not only server side upgrade, but the tools as well. Even though the new SAMP are not very stable and only work with SL4, it provide a new approach to manage our SQL Azure database.

For more information about this release please refer to the official announcement from the Windows Azure blog here and here.

And MS had just released the first CTP of SQL Server Developer Tools (Codename "Juneau"), which is another tool to manage, design and deploy SQL Server and SQL Azure. You can have a look here as well.

 

Hope this helps,

Shaun

All documents and related graphics, codes are provided "AS IS" without warranty of any kind.
Copyright © Shaun Ziyan Xu. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons License.

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