Microsoft Offers Azure SQL Data Warehouse for Limited Preview

Microsoft is cracking the door to its cloud data warehouse. The Azure SQL Data Warehouse is now ready to accept data from customers in limited use cases.

Microsoft cloud data warehouse

Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Microsoft's cloud-based data repository offering, is available as a limited preview, the company announced yesterday.

When Microsoft first announced the offering during the Build conference in April, corporate vice president T.K. "Ranga" Rengarajan described the technology at the time to eWEEK as "the world's first elastic data warehouse."

Along those lines, Tiffany Wissner, senior director of Microsoft's Data Platform division, asserted in a June 24 SQL Server Blog post that "because Azure SQL Data Warehouse independently scales compute and storage, users only pay for query performance as they need it."

"Unlike other cloud data warehouses that require hours or days to resize, the service allows customers to grow or shrink query power in seconds," Wissner continued. "As you can scale compute costs separately from storage costs, costs are easier to forecast than competitive offerings."

Azure SQLData Warehouse can also serve as a cloud-powered shortcut for big data projects, courtesy of Polybase, a Hadoop-compatible SQL Server technology.

"With Polybase, we offer the ability to combine data sets easily," said Wissner. "SQL Data Warehouse can query semi-structured data stored in blob storage using familiar T-SQL, making it easy to gain insights from various data types."

For now, the preview is being limited to data warehouses ranging from 5 to 10 terabytes (TB) in size. "You can sign up now, and as we ramp the preview, new customers will be notified as they are accepted," Wissner said.

Coinciding with the beta release is the Azure SQL Data Warehouse connector for Power BI. The software enables users of the browser-based business intelligence (BI) tool to explore data stored in the new data repository and generate reports.

In the meantime, a partner ecosystem is beginning to sprout around Azure SQL Data Warehouse, announced Garth Fort, general manager of Microsoft Enterprise Partners.

Supporters include Birst, an 11-year-old provider of cloud-based BI and analytics software that attracted $65 million in venture capital funding in March. "Enterprises can create a trusted source of data within the context of each key business user," said Fort in a statement describing Birst's technology. "Then, business users throughout the organization can report and analyze information with world-class BI tools."

Also onboard is Tableau, whose "self-service analytics help anyone see and understand their data, across all kinds of data from flat files to databases," said Fort. "Tableau has a native, optimized connector to Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse that supports both live data and in-memory analytics."

The move comes a month after the company released version 9.0 of its Tableau Online cloud analytics product. After being completely revamped, the solution is 10 times faster than its predecessor, claimed the company. "Tableau Online 9.0 not only is faster than ever, but it makes it easier for customers to keep their dashboards in the cloud up-to-date," Tableau's vice president of product management said in a statement.

In total, 21 analytics companies support Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse. The rest of the list includes Attunity, Bryte Systems, ClearStory Data, Coffing Data Warehousing, Dell Statistica, Dundas Software, Inbrein, InfoLibrarian, Informatica, Jinfonet, Logi Analytics, Looker, Qlik, Redpoint Global, SiSense, SnapLogic, SQL Sentry, Targit and Yellowfin.

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...