SQL Data Services ( SDS) is part of the Azure Services Platform and is the key service for storing data in the cloud, whether your application is either hosted locally or using some of the compute capabilities of Windows Azure in the cloud.

Since its introduction at Mix08, SDS has really focused on providing a flexible entity based cloud database that you accessed using standard internet protocols (REST / XML ). When we first started talking about it, we always promised to add more relational capabilities, but the wide spread feedback we received from early adopters was that they needed a full relational database delivered as a service. As a result of this work and some analysis within the product team, today we are announcing that SDS will deliver full relational database capabilities as a service.

The plan is to offer true relational capabilities, T-SQL and compatibility with the existing developer and management tools ecosystem. Effectively, if you have a application that connects to SQLServer, making it work with the new features of SDS will be very, very simple. Technically we doing this by supporting the standard Tabular Data Stream over the web, which is the native transport protocol for SQLServer. This means near symmetric SQL Server functionality, behavior and compatibility. This means that tables, Stored Procs, Triggers, Views, Indexes ( wow ) and ADO.Net/ ODBC Compatibility will be there when we go live.

So what about those open standards I here you ask? Will we still support Authorities, Containers and Entities? Well the answer is no. This will be lost with the changes. However, since the data model in Windows Azure storage has a similar  developer experience, developers can still use these capabilities within the Azure Services Platform.

More information on these changes will appear on the SQL Data Services (SDS) site over the next weeks and months.

My simple call to action if you are building applications for the Azure Services is to code to SQLServer Express and the migration to the service should be pretty straight forward.