[This article was contributed by the SQL Azure team.]

I wanted to bring to your attention a great whitepaper on “NoSQL and the Windows Azure platform” written by Andrew Brust, a frequently quoted technology commentator and consultant.

This paper is important because there is a renewed interest in certain non-relational data stores which are sometimes collectively referred to as “NoSQL” technologies and this is a category which certainly has its niche of avid supporters. NoSQL databases often inherently use approaches like distributed horizontal scale-out and do away with some of the ACID characteristics of traditional relational databases in favor of flexibility and performance especially for certain workloads like scalable web applications. This in turn provokes a number of questions as to which scenarios NoSQL is appropriate for, whether it is a favored technology for the cloud and how it relates to cloud offerings like the Windows Azure platform.

I really enjoyed reading Andrew’s whitepaper because it does a great job of educating users on NoSQL and its major subcategories; understanding the NoSQL technologies already available in the Windows Azure platform; and on evaluating NoSQL and relational database approaches.

We have long believed that SQL Azure is unique because it has proven relational database technologies but is architected from the ground up for the scale, simplicity and ease of use of the cloud.  But whether you are using SQL Azure or not, if you are working on cloud technologies you will likely at some point be confronted with decisions that relate to NoSQL and Andrew’s perspectives on this topic help to bring greater clarity to a topic which can be quite confusing at first.

-Steve