Azure SQL Data Warehouse Hits General Availability

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Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Microsoft's elastic cloud computing platform, became generally available on Tuesday.

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft, announced the product's release during the Day 2 keynote of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), taking place this week in Toronto.

SQL Data Warehouse on Azure "allows you to stand up a data warehouse literally in minutes and run to even a petabyte in terms of size," Guthrie said during his keynote presentation.

Billed as a Database-as-a-Service offering, Azure SQL Data Warehouse is Microsoft's enterprise-focused storage solution that scales both computing power and storage space based on need. According to the company, Azure SQL Data Warehouse lets companies provision the service, as well as scale up to 60 times the current computing power, within seconds.

"With a few clicks in the Azure Portal, you can launch a data warehouse, and start analyzing or querying data at the scale of hundreds of terabytes," wrote Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Data Group, in a blog post. "Our architecture separates compute and storage so that you can independently scale them, and use just the right amount of each at any given time. A very unique pause feature allows you to suspend compute in seconds and resume when needed while your data remains intact in Azure storage."

The ability to scale on the fly saves on cost and can aid a growing business, in the case of mobile game developer PoundSand. "Getting featured in the iOS App Store was a big deal for a small company like ours as our users increased from 3,000 to 300,000 in 48 hours," said Paul Ohanian, CTO of PoundSand. "To keep up with this 100x increase in workload, we simply added data warehouse compute capacity by moving a slider and our services just scaled in minutes -- we didn't miss an insight."

Azure SQL Data Warehouse was built on an elastic massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture similar to what's found in SQL Server 2016 to provide column stores for storage compression and instant analytics. It also ties in closely with Azure Machine Learning and Power BI to provide deep analytics reporting.

Microsoft is also touting Azure SQL Data Warehouse's strong security features, including built-in auditing and threat detection, protection for data at rest with Microsoft's Transparent Data Encryption service offered in many of its other cloud-based services, and advanced machine learning to detect potentially malicious query patterns. The close integration with Azure Active Directory also provides stronger authentication control through the use of Single Sign-On and granular permissions capabilities to allow custom access on a per-user basis.

Microsoft released Azure SQL Data Warehouse as a limited preview in late June 2015, before expanding it to a wider audience in October 2015. Microsoft says thousands of customers have already been using the product before Tuesday's general availability announcement. New customers can evaluate the service with a free $200 credit trial, available here.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for and


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