Microsoft Prepares for Azure SQL Data Warehouse for SSMS 2016

The latest batch of Azure SQL Data Warehouse updates includes fledgling support for the upcoming release of SQL Server Management Studio 2016.

Microsoft Azure SQL data warehouse

Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Microsoft's elastic cloud data warehousing solution, has gained new management capabilities, courtesy of a batch of recent updates issued by the Redmond, Wash., software maker.

The product enables businesses to create petabyte-scale data warehouses on Microsoft's cloud that dynamically shrink and grow, and can even be paused. It integrates with the HDInsight Apache Hadoop service, Power BI and other Azure-backed big data tools and services.

In a roundup of Azure SQL Data Warehouse's new features and enhancements, Drew DiPalma, a Microsoft SQL Engineering program manager, announced that the company has enabled a handful of Transact-SQL (T-SQL) functions in preparation for the arrival of SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) 2016 sometime in the next few months.

As its name suggests, SSMS is a software toolset used to configure and manage Microsoft SQL Server. The 2016 edition will include support for Azure SQL Data Warehouse. The six new supported TSQL functions are SET NOCOUNT ON|OFF, SET NOCOUNT ON|OFF, SET NOCOUNT ON|OFF, SET NOCOUNT ON|OFF and @@MICROSOFTVERSION, DiPalma wrote in a blog post.

Microsoft has also added the ability for administrators to perform a self-service restore of an SQL Data Warehouse from a geo-redundant backup. In Azure, geo-redundant backups are stored in a secondary data center located hundreds of miles away from the customer's primary Azure region.

"Data warehouses can be restored into any Azure region, and on any server," explained DiPalma. "Since SQL Data Warehouse uses geo-redundant backups, you can recover a database, even if the database is inaccessible due to an outage."

PolyBase, which provides access to Hadoop or Azure Blob Storage, can now connect to public data sets in addition to existing support for a personal storage account. The new capability allows customers to connect to external data sources that don't require credentials and load large amounts of data for testing purposes.

For those tasked with monitoring their organization's Azure SQL Data Warehouse use, Microsoft added two new metrics that administrators can keep an eye on. The new Data Warehouse Unit (DWU) Limit metric shows how many DWUs are currently assigned to a given data warehouse.

DWU is an internal measurement of compute and input-output performance Microsoft uses to determine the hardware resources and configuration to deliver a competitive data warehousing offering. The second new metric, DWU Used, displays the amount of DWUs consumed by a given workload, helping administrators determine whether to scale their warehouses up or down to minimize costs.

Finally, the company has migrated more than 600 reference topics to MSDN and tweaked its SQL Data Warehouse online documentation to help administrators find answers faster.

Online support documents now display a new row just under its title, which lists Microsoft's database offerings and allows users to compare and contrast syntax between SQL Server, Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Data Warehouse, DiPalma said. A green icon with a check indicates that the support topic applies to a product whereas incompatible offerings are preceded by a grayed-out icon with an "X."

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...