Friday 16 October 2009

Microsoft Azure: Not quite ready for prime time

I am fortunate enough to be working with the Microsoft Azure team and have had an opportunity to play with Microsoft's "Cloud" database offering; Azure.

Setting up, or more accurately getting access to my Azure database was simple.

I was able to access my account via my Microsoft Live ID, and create a new database with a very simple (but as we will soon see, a very limited interface)  web based interface.

I have included a snap-shot of the default Azure databases;

One thing that is vitally, SUPER important. You need to select the Firewall  Settings Tab and allow your IP address. Or, you will not be able to connect. Helpfully, the error dialog advises your of your IP address (that Azure sees) so you can add the correct IP address range.

I am not quite ready to publish some of our performance ratings. To be fair to Microsoft Azure is still in CTP mode (Community Technology Preview) and we could not get our diagnostic tools loaded. Which leads me onto my next point. Azure is at this stage,  kind of interesting, but we are a long way from getting a USEFUL Azure-based product working.

For example, there are some pretty hefty limitations to Azure. For example, even in the humble database creation command (our natural starting point), we found the following limitations documented in the online Azure documentation;

SQL Azure does not support the following arguments and options when using the CREATE DATABASE statement:

Parameters related to the physical placement of file, such as and
  • COLLATE on a user database
  • External access options, such as DB_CHAINING and TRUSTWORTHY
  • Attaching a database
  • Service broker options, such as ENABLE_BROKER, NEW_BROKER, and ERROR_BROKER_CONVERSATIONS
  • Database snapshot

So, we could not set the collation on our newly minted Azure database, and so NOTHING from our development team will work. This kinda sucks. Hopefully, soon we will be able have more control over the database creation process (ALTER and UPDATE too please) and then we can give Azure a proper test.

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