SQL Azure’s place in the data world (Part 3)

In the first two parts of this topic, I discussed how data is managed in SQL Azure and what the cost would be to an organization.  In this installment, I wanted to propose some data solutions that might be a fit for a SQL Azure database.

Here is some quick history that is shaping my thoughts on this.  While at Magenic, my focus is on business intelligence solutions on the Microsoft SQL Server product stack.  Prior to returning to Magenic, I worked at XATA Corporation as the data architect for a hosted, SaaS solution serving the trucking industry.  So, out of this background, I base my first suggestion.  In SaaS (Software as a Service), customers often use tools provided by the vendor for specific tasks which tasks generate data.  Most SaaS solutions offer some form of reporting or query based analysis for the data that is collected.  However, some users require a greater level of interaction with the data.  The issue is that the data is stored in the SaaS vendor’s multi-tenant data store which is usually not conducive to having ad hoc queries run against it.  This has led to one of the most common solutions to this problem – export the data to customer.  The problem is that the customer must now host the data on premise and is often responsible for merging new data as it comes from the vendor.  In this solution, SQL Azure could act as the “go-between” between the multi-tenant data store and the customer.  This will allow the vendor to provide a value-added BI service that the customer can leverage in a number of ways including reports, Excel, and even Access.  The vendor can keep the data synchronized and the customer can leverage the data as needed.

Beyond the SaaS BI ad hoc solution, SQL Azure can be used to support development of solutions that require a shared data store without putting the data on each desktop.  In keeping with the concept of the cloud being “anywhere”, SQL Azure can also be used to support distributed solutions that require a SQL data store to function. 

Obviously, there are still issues with using SQL Azure as a primary, production data store due to the lower SLAs from Microsoft.  However, it is not too early to investigate creative ways that will help your business leverage a relational database in the cloud.  I would encourage you to check out the free trial options from Microsoft to experiment with the platform. 

January PASSMN (Minnesota SQL Server User Group) Meeting

Update and Notes: Not only sponsoring this month’s meeting, but also offering a 10% discount to all PASSMN members to the class “SQL Server 2008 Architecture, Internals and Tuning“, is:  Benchmark Learning

Please click here for meeting details and to RSVP

Again, note the non-standard location, date and time.
Meeting Info:
Note: We will be meeting in the 8000 building this month Please click here for meeting details and to RSVP


8000 Norman Center Drive, 2nd Floor, Bloomington, MN  55437


January 25th, 2011


5:00 – 7:00

Error Logs and Deadlocks, Oh My!
Jason Strate, Digineer

Tired of turning to the SQL Server error log to find out what’s happened?  Would you rather just know about a deadlock when it’s occurred rather than later in the day when the manager as you why HRs bonus distribution application failed?  Find out how to get this information and more delivered to your inbox so that you can head off issues instead of drowning in them.  In this session we’ll look at Event Notifications and find out how to stop having to monitor SQL Server error logs today.

Seeking SQL Server Secrets
Kalen Delaney, SQLearning

Many experienced DBAs are aware that there are many undocumented commands and traceflags in SQL Server, and some DBAs may even keep track of all references to such options whenever they read about them in an article or blog posts, or hear about them at a conference. In this session, I’ll not only tell you about some of my favorite undocumented features, I’ll also tell you some of my tricks for discovering more undocumented secrets.

Training:  f you are looking for some training on SQL Server architecture, internals and tuning in January, then check out Kalen Delaney’s upcoming class at Benchmark Learning.  In her class she’ll talk about SQL Server architecture, the storage structures, index design and tuning, and much more.  There are still a few spots left for the class and it’s a great opportunity to get some instruction from one of the most knowledgeable trainers around.  Benchmark is now offering a 10% discount to this class for PASSMN members!