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Azure SQL Data Warehouse Goes Global, Other Azure Updates

Azure SQL Data Warehouse became generally available in Microsoft's Australia East, India West and Japan West datacenters this week, meaning the service is now available out of all 33 Azure regions.

Microsoft describes Azure SQL Warehouse as a "fully managed, petabyte-scale cloud solution." It can be provisioned in minutes, and operations can "scale up to 60 times larger in seconds." The service includes a "geo-backup" capability to restore data should a regional failure occur.

Microsoft touted the municipality of Catania in Italy as one of its customers using Azure SQL Data Warehouse. The municipality is using the service to store public service data, according to another Microsoft announcement.

Azure Key Vault SQL Database Preview
In other Azure news, organizations wanting tight control over access to the data housed on Microsoft's datacenters when using the Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Data Warehouse services can protect the data by storing cryptographic keys using Microsoft's Azure Key Vault technology, a product launched almost three years ago. It turns out that organizations need to setup Azure Key Vault in a particular way, and they need to use "transparent data encryption," too, for all data written to disk.

This week, Microsoft announced a "preview" of SQL Database transparent data encryption with Azure Key Vault. The announcement outlined the arcane steps that are needed to enable this protection.

Azure Standard Load Balancer
Microsoft this week announced the availability of a new Azure Standard Load Balancer, which is available in "27 public cloud regions." The Standard option uses a different stack than the Azure Basic Load Balancer, which Microsoft still plans to offer, according to another announcement. The new Standard design "adds 10x scale" and can handle "millions of flows per second," Microsoft explained.

"Standard Load Balancer can distribute network traffic of up to one thousand (1000) VM instances in a backend pool," the announcement clarified. "This is a 10x scale improvement over the existing Basic SKU."

In addition, the Azure Standard Load Balancer works with Azure Availability Zones, currently at preview, which are designed to offer protection from "datacenter-level failures" within an Azure region for virtual machines, according to a Microsoft document. Users get a service-level agreement (SLA) uptime guarantee of 99.99 percent with the Standard version. The SLA isn't available with the Basic offering. Microsoft is also touting the ability to get "in-band active measurements" in Azure Monitor within the Azure Portal or in the Operations Management Suite when using the new Azure Standard Load Balancer option.

Azure Storage Blobs Soft Delete Preview
Microsoft also this week announced a public preview of a soft delete capability for those using its Azure Storage Blobs service, which can tested in all Azure regions. The soft delete capability needs to be turned on to work, but it's conceived as a safeguard against accidental deletions. Deleted data will disappear but aren't permanently erased when the soft delete feature is active. Instead, the "soft deleted objects are invisible unless explicitly listed," the announcement explained. It'll save snapshots of soft-deleted data, so using this feature will incur storage costs.

"If there is a chance that your data is accidentally modified or deleted by an application or other storage account user, we recommend turning on soft delete," Microsoft's announcement stated. "Soft delete is one part of a data protection strategy and can help prevent inadvertent data loss."

About the Author

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

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