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Yesterday at the SQL PASS Summit, we announced several enhancements to SQL Azure that will be delivered with our next service release. The Q4 SR marks a further advancement to our scale on demand capabilities  for the data tier. Key enhancements include a 3x increase in maximum database size from 50 GB to 150 GB, and SQL Azure Federation to greatly simplify database elastic scale.  Existing applications should be unaffected by the upgrade, and further information on tool updates and how to use these new features will be available on this blog when the rollout of the Q4 SR is complete (expected by end of this year). Also announced in Thursday’s keynote is the immediate availability of the next Community Technology Preview (CTP) releases for SQL Azure Reporting and SQL Azure Data Sync. Both CTPs are now broadly available to SQL Azure customers and can be accessed via the Windows Azure Management portal.

What’s coming in the Q4 2011 Service Release?

The following new features will be included with the Q4 SR:

  • Increased database size: The maximum database size for individual SQL Azure databases will be expanded from 50 GB to 150 GB.
  • SQL Azure Federation: With Federation, databases can be elastically scaled out using the sharding database pattern based on database size and the application workload.  This new feature will make it dramatically easier to set up sharding, automate the process of adding new shards, and provide significant new functionality for easily managing database shards. Click here for more information.
  • New SQL Azure Management Portal:  The new portal will have a Metro-style user interface with significant new features including the ability to more easily monitor databases, drill-down into schemas, query plans, spatial data, indexes/keys, and query performance statistics (see screen shots below).
  • Expanded support for user-controlled collations.

New Features for SQL Server Management Studio

New features for SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) were also demonstrated at the PASS Summit yesterday. Specifically, we will be introducing new capabilities for SSMS that will enable on-premises databases (data and schema) to be moved directly to SQL Azure or to Windows Azure Storage for storage in the cloud, further enhancing hybrid IT scenarios. The updated version of SSMS with these features will first ship in SQL Server 2012 and will also be offered on the web as a free download early next year. We will provide future blog posts when the tool updates are available for download, so stay tuned!

View PASS Summit Keynote with Demonstrations

Click here to watch demonstrations of many of these new features, made during the PASS Summit keynote by Quentin Clark, corporate vice president, SQL Server Database System Group at Microsoft. Click here for more information about Windows Azure and SQL Azure sessions at PASS Summit 2011.

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