Microsoft Releases SQL Azure Update

Microsoft SQL Azure Service Update 4 is now live with new support for database copying, an enhanced help system and deployment of Microsoft's "Houston" tool to multiple data centers.

Microsoft has released an update to SQL Azure with new support for database copying.

With SQL Azure Service Update 4, users get the ability to take a snapshot of their database.

"This new copy feature is the first step in backup support for SQL Azure, allowing you to get a complete backup of any SQL Azure database before making schema or database changes to the source database," according to a blog post by Wayne Walter Brady of Microsoft's SQL Azure team. "The ability to snapshot a database easily is our top requested feature for SQL Azure, and goes above and beyond our database center replication to keep your data always available."

The backup is performed in the SQL Azure data center using a transactional mechanism without downtime to the source database, he explained. The database is copied in full to a new database in the same data center, and users can choose to copy to a different server in the same data center or the same server with a different database name.

"A new database created from the copy process is transactionally consistent with the source database at the point in time when the copy completes," he wrote. "This means that the snapshot time is the end time of the copy, not the start time of the copy."

Microsoft announced the update Aug. 24.

The company also updated a Web-based database management tool for SQL Azure databases code-named "Houston." The tool can be used to handle tasks such as authoring and executing queries and designing database schema.