Microsoft SQL Azure Update 4 goes live

Cloud offering adds snapshots, improved tools and help links


Update 4 for Microsoft's SQL Azure Service has added support for database copying and management tools to the company's cloud offering.

The copy feature allows Azure users to backup their SQL database before making changes to the schema or database itself. The backup takes the form of a snapshot performed in the SQL Azure datacentre using a transactional mechanism to avoid database downtime.

This makes the process of backing-up faster to speed up development and avoid creating errors on the working database. The snapshot is stored under a new database name on the same server, or under its given name on a different virtual server within the datacentre.

"The ability to snapshot a database easily is our top requested feature for SQL Azure, and goes above and beyond our database centre replication to keep your data always available," wrote Wayne Walter Brady of Microsoft's SQL Azure blogging team.

Creating a snapshot means that the new database can have a different administrative account within the SQL Azure portal or under a different service account for billing purposes.

Microsoft has also gone live with a database management tool for SQL Azure to handle authoring and executing queries, and designing database schema. The tool was developed under the codename Houston.

The third addition to the SQL Azure kit is a MSDN help facility which takes the form of a collection of "How To" document links.

SQL Azure and SQL Azure Database were formerly known as SQL Services and SQL Data Services before Microsoft renamed them in July.

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