Channel Watch

Cloud Computing: Share and Share Alike

Programs: Microsoft opens data services component of the Azure platform, called Project Huron, to customers for testing.

Microsoft is beginning to test a fiendishly complex part of its forthcoming Azure cloud computing platform among corporate customers, marking a big move for the Azure platform from the realm of cool ideas into the real world.

Microsoft announced last month that it is seeking customers willing to test their databases in a cloud-based data-connectivity project. The testing is part of "Project Huron," a synchronization-enabled cloud data hub that's being developed as part of Microsoft's SQL Data Services effort. The technology combines Microsoft's Sync Service with its SQL Data Service, all of which is hosted using Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform.

One of the purposes of Project Huron is to make it easier for multiple users to access and modify data without conflicts. Data access occurs via a publish-and-subscribe model. The synchronization feature will get the latest copy of the database from the Internet cloud, including any modifications made by other users. Changes are tracked by unique IDs, which help to avoid conflicts as users update records, according to a Microsoft video describing Project Huron.

The project aims to address security and scalability issues associated with accessing data over the Internet. It also aims to help developers via simple user interface tools.

Project Huron will support Microsoft Access, SQL CE, SQL Express and SQL Server relational databases. It will also enable data access by remote and mobile workers, as well as business-to-business data sharing, according to Microsoft's description.

The first version of Project Huron will not work directly with Microsoft Access. Instead, the project will leverage Microsoft's Sync Framework to connect with SQL Server and SQL Compact local databases.

Microsoft is looking for early-adopter customers who will share their SQL Server or SQL Compact databases for testing purposes over the Internet cloud. Those wanting to test the service also have to have "an existing project that would warrant this functionality" -- that is, a need for data sharing.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.