Microsoft Launches Azure Search Preview, Other Improvements

Microsoft last week rolled out preview releases of Azure DocumentDB and Azure Search, as well as announced the general availability of Azure HDInsight.

The new Azure services are aimed at helping data analysts or developers connect applications to databases or search services.

DocumentDB, now in preview, is Microsoft's version of a NoSQL database as a service, with built-in support for JSON and JavaScript. Microsoft claims that DocumentDB enables schema-free development. It allows developers to support applications across multiple platforms via NoSQL while adding support for "the query processing and transaction semantics common to relational database systems," according to Microsoft. Azure Document DB includes library support for ".NET, Node.js, JavaScript, and Python," and Microsoft indicated it plans to contribute "client libraries to the open source community."

Also in preview is Azure Search, Microsoft's search service that can be used in applications. Microsoft described Azure Search as a fully managed service. "Customers do not have to worry about the complexities of full-text search or deploying, maintaining or managing a search infrastructure," Microsoft's announcement explained.

The search service is accessed through an API "from any platform or development environment." It provides management for searches that need to go through large volumes of data.

Meanwhile, the Azure HDInsight service became generally available last Thursday. HDInsight is Microsoft's Hadoop-based cloud computing service that used for analyzing piles of structured and unstructured data. Apache HBase, on the other hand, is an open source nonrelational database that can host tables with "billions of rows x millions of columns" using commodity hardware clusters, according to the Apache Software Foundation's definition.

HBase data are stored on Microsoft Azure as Blob data. Developers might use HBase to store sensor data or Web site data for later analysis via the HDInsight service, according to Microsoft's announcement. The latest version of HDInsight, version 3.1, is the only one that currently supports HBase, according to Microsoft's component list.

Microsoft also indicated that it has bulked up its virtual machine (VM) image collection that's accessed through the Azure Portal (currently in preview) and the Azure Gallery. There are now nearly 300 preconfigured VMs available, including many that are based on open source Linux-based operating systems.

If all of that Azure news weren't enough, Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group, detailed a whole roster of Azure improvements and updates that were made back in July.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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