I'm really impressed by the rate that the Azure team is making and releasing enhancements. Scott Guthrie posted about these again recently.
The following items in the announcement were ones that I think can be useful to those with an interest in SQL Server:
* General availability of Azure VMs. While we've had SQL Database and SQL Reporting available as services in Azure, we don't have the other parts of the database platform. With Azure VMs, you can spin up a VM to run SQL Server.
* SQL Server templates. You don't need to install SQL Server when creating a VM. There are templates that have this already installed. You can also save your own templates. They've also provided BizTalk and SharePoint templates.
* Hourly billing for the templates above. This means that if you just need a SQL Server system for a few hours, you can easily do that.
* Virtual Networks. You can create a virtual network, including the ability to stretch that out to your on-premises systems.
* Larger memory VMs. If you really want to try out tabular analytic models, etc. you can now get up to 8 cores and 56GB of memory in a VM.
* Durable data disks from storage can now be up to 1TB in size each.
* Significant reduction in the price of the VMs.
You'll find Scott's announcement here: http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2013/04/16/windows-azure-general-availability-of-infrastructure-as-a-service-iaas.aspx
I posted the other day about a hotfix that's needed after you apply SQL Server 2012 SP1 CU3, to still be able to open or edit SSIS projects or database maintenance plans in SSDT.
However, I found that after I applied CU3 and the hotfix, that all my stored credential details for SQL Servers was gone. That was particularly nasty for all my Azure-related logons. I had to set them up again.
No idea why that happened but figured I should give you all a heads-up about it!
It's great to see the constant roll-out of capabilities across the Azure platform.
One in particular that many have been waiting for is Active Directory. Scott Guthrie posted today that it's now available for production use. This is particularly significant and also enables options for on-premises directory sync and federation. If you have been using Office365, you have already been using Azure AD.
Scott also mentioned that they are about to open a preview of a link from OAuth 2 (or OpenID) to Azure AD. That will enable you to use alternate credentials (such as Twitter credentials) to authenticate against Azure AD.
They have also added an Azure Backup option and added a variety of monitoring options for Azure Websites, including the ability to retrieve website logs via FTP.
Scott's post about this is here: http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2013/04/08/windows-azure-active-directory-general-availability-new-backup-service-web-site-monitoring-and-diagnostic-improvements.aspx
One of the common objections that comes up when talking to people about storing their data in Azure, is that "we are not allowed to do it". In so many cases, that simply isn't true, or it's true for a small part of the overall data. In other cases, it's a case of no-one wanting to be seen to be the first in their industry to do so, for some perceived liability reasons. Again, most of these are unfounded.
The thing that can change these opinions though is certification by governments. Some have already done so and it's great to see the announcement that Windows Azure received G-Cloud Impact Level 2 Accreditation from Cabinet Office for use across the UK Public Sector. You can read more about it here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ukgovernment/archive/2013/04/04/windows-azure-receives-g-cloud-impact-level-2-accreditation-from-cabinet-office-for-use-across-the-uk-public-sector.aspx
Cumulative Update 3 for SP1 for SQL Server 2012 caused a number of problems with SSIS packages. This also applies to database maintenance plans as they are also SSIS packages.
After applying the update, you could get this error when opening an SSIS package:
The type initializer for 'Microsoft.DataTransformationServices.Design.SharedIcons' threw an exception.
Value of 'null' is not valid for 'stream'. (System.Drawing)
If you edit a maintenance plan, you could get this error:
Provide value on 'System.Windows.Markup.StaticExtension' threw an exception. (PresentationFramework)
Exception has been thrown by the target of an invocation. (mscorlib)
The type initializer for 'Microsoft.SqlServer.Graph.Extended.HighContrastSupport' threw an exception. (Microsoft.SqlServer.IntegrationServices.Graph)
A fix has been released to address these issues. You should apply it in conjunction with CU3, whenever you are deploying CU3. You'll find details here:
In Melbourne, it was the coldest morning of the year so far but I didn't mind getting up at 5:30AM to record an interview with Marco Russo. Marco is well-known in the SQL BI community for his writing and presentations.
SQL Down Under show 58 is now online: http://www.sqldownunder.com/Resources/Podcast.aspx
In this show, Marco discusses concepts and experiences from working with tabular data models in SQL Server Analysis Services.