To me, as a DBA, the most important thing about the Windows Azure Platform Appliance, announced here, is the translation of my SQL server skill set across all deployment scenarios. The knowledge is portable because the database technology is scalable and the tools are shared. Skills translation goes hand in hand with database portability.
You can move your SQL Server platform database from desktop applications using SQL Express to:
There is no other single platform that covers such a broad set of usage scenarios. The Microsoft SQL Server platform covers scenario from free SQL Server Express databases up to 4 GB, to on premise SQL Server installations hosting thousands of terabytes of storage, to elastic and reliable SQL Azure databases in the cloud. The wide set of offerings allow us to leverage the knowledge we have in SQL Server across multiple scenarios.
One reason why skill translation is so important is that it allows you to take a set of knowledge and use it to encompass many different scenarios. Most of us will not work on just a single project or solve the same problem all the time. We accomplish many different goals using a wide variety of data scenarios in our careers and it is great having a single mental tool set that will accomplish them all. Here are a few scenarios that SQL Server and SQL Azure handle well (with links for context):
Another reason portability and data transferability are important is that it allows your company to switch between SQL Azure and SQL Server as the requirements for the database change. Growth is just one fluctuating component of a maturing business, as you grow you want to be able to move between database solutions without having learn a different database technology, or worse, the company have to hire someone else. The similarities between SQL Azure and SQL Server are so close that you can easily move from one to another, and get the data transferred easily.
As a DBA, I rarely get the chance to set the company’s business objective. One project might require an on-premise SQL Server installation; one might need the reliability of SQL Azure; one might need both with synchronization setup between them -- it usually is not up to me. Either way, with portable skills I can get the job done by picking the best database solution for the job at hand. Another way to think about it is that the database project isn’t limited to a solution as a result of the staff on hand only knowing one solution.
Just as easily as your knowledge transfers between these different deployments, your data and schema transfer. Tools like SQL Server Management Studio, SSIS, bcp utility and other third party tools allow you to jump between solutions as you need greater scalability, reliability, and performance. Microsoft will be continuing to improve the tools for moving data and schemas between deployment solutions.
Start thinking of your Microsoft data platform DBA skills as not only SQL Server, but SQL Azure skills too. Take some time to learn SQL Azure, you will find that your SQL Server skills closely mirror SQL Azure, and you have the ability to accomplish a wider range of deployment solutions. Do you have questions, concerns, comments? Post them below and we will try to address them.
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express supports 10 GB of storage per database.
I'm unsure that the Appliance will give you anything new regarding SQL when it comes to on-premise. Can't you just use SQL Server?
The real challenges I see with SQL in the cloud are:
1) changing our mindset for architecting scalable DB designs (aka getting used to partitioning)
2) allowing for sandboxing of queries and CLR code within databases