Microsoft Kicks Off Its NoSQL Azure DocumentDB Preview

Microsoft lets the public take its new cloud-based NoSQL document service for a spin and launches a preview of its search-as-a-service offering.

Microsoft NoSQL Azure DocumentDB

Microsoft has released a preview of DocumentDB, a NoSQL document service for the company's Azure cloud computing platform.

The NoSQL database movement has picked up in recent years after Internet bigwigs like Twitter have flocked to non-relational data stores as scalable foundations for their Web services. "DocumentDB is truly schema-free," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group, explained in an Aug. 21 blog post.

"It allows you to store and query any JSON [JavaScript Object Notation] document, regardless of schema," Guthrie went on to explain. "The service provides built-in automatic indexing support—which means you can write JSON documents to the store and immediately query them using a familiar document-oriented SQL query grammar."

The service requires the purchase of capacity units, which administrators can add or remove using the Azure management portal or its REST-based API. "This allows you to elastically scale databases in fine grained increments with predictable performance and no application downtime simply by increasing or decreasing capacity units," added Guthrie.

Customers can further customize their DocumentDB environments to suit their application requirements by adjusting their index policies and consistency levels. Four consistency levels are available for queries and read operations, said Guthrie, namely Strong, Bounded Staleness, Session, and Eventual.

"These consistency levels allow you to make sound trade-offs between consistency and performance," he stated. "Each consistency level is backed by a predictable performance level ensuring you can achieve reliable results for your application."

DocumentDB is available in the new Azure Preview Portal under the gallery's data, storage, cache + backup category.

Search as a Service

Microsoft also launched the Azure Search preview. The service allows developers to create and populate search indexes and quickly insert search into their applications, "without having to deal with the typical complexities that come with managing, tuning and scaling a real-world search service," said Guthrie.

Azure Search is available in two tiers, standard and free. "The free tier is limited to 10,000 documents, up to three indexes and has no dedicated capacity guarantees," said Guthrie. By comparison, the standard plan can "index tens of millions of documents with lots of indexes."

Developers aren't locked into Azure Search's default ranking model, Guthrie said. "You can also author your own scoring profiles that model scores in ways that match the needs of your application." Other options include the hit-highlighting, search faceting and "query string options to filter, sort, project and page over the results."

Rounding out the new capabilities are Webjobs, which allow customers to run any code within their Azure Web Sites, and automated deployment support for SQL Server VMs with AlwaysOn, Microsoft's high-availability solution. Microsoft Azure Monitoring Services Management Library and API Management REST APIs are now generally available as part of the latest batch of updates.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...