During the Day 2 keynote at the SQL PASS Summit 2011 this morning, Microsoft announced a number of updates, including some much requested advancements to SQL Azure

Key announcements on SQL Azure included the availability of new CTPs for SQL Azure Reporting and SQL Azure Data Sync, as well as a look at the upcoming Q4 2011 Service Release for SQL Azure.  Details on each of these announcements can be found below, with additional posts coming from Greg Leake later this week with in-depth details, so check back often!

Upcoming Features for SQL Azure

The SQL Azure Q4 2011 Service Release will be available by end of 2011 and is aimed at simplifying elastic scale out needs.

Key features include:

  • The maximum database size for individual SQL Azure databases will be expanded 3x from 50 GB to 150 GB.
  • Federation. With SQL Azure Federation, databases can be elastically scaled out using the sharding database pattern based on database size and the application workload.  This new feature will make it dramatically easier to set up sharding, automate the process of adding new shards, and provide significant new functionality for easily managing database shards.
  • New SQL Azure Management Portal capabilities.  The service release will include an enhanced management portal with significant new features including the ability to more easily monitor databases, drill-down into schemas, query plans, spatial data, indexes/keys, and query performance statistics.
  • Expanded support for user-controlled collations.

SQL Azure Reporting CTP 

Previously only available to a limited number of customers, today’s updated CTP release is broadly available and delivers on the promise of BI capabilities in the cloud.

Key new features include:

  • Improved availability and performance statistics.
  • Ability to self-provision a SQL Azure Reporting server.
  • Windows Azure Management Portal updates to easily manage users and reports deployed to the SQL Azure Reporting.
  • Availability of the service in all Microsoft Windows Azure datacenters around the world.
  • Official Microsoft support in this new CTP release.
  • Greater access for customers with no separate registration process required to use the new CTP.

SQL Azure Data Sync CTP

SQL Azure Data Sync simplifies the ability to connect on-premises and cloud environments to enable hybrid IT environments.

Key new features include:

  • Greater ease of use with new Management Portal:
    • The new Management Portal provides a rich graphical interpretation of the databases being synchronized and is used to configure, manage and monitor your sync topology.
  • Greater flexibility with enhanced filtering and sync group configuration:
    • Filtering:  Specify a subset of table columns or specific rows.
    • Sync group configuration:  Specify conflict resolution as well as sync direction per group member.
  • Great access for all users:
    • The new CTP is available to all SQL Azure users for trial and does not require a separate registration process.

Together, these updates help address the latest needs we are hearing from customers and enable new scenarios in the cloud in a simple, flexible way.  To begin taking advantage of the SQL Azure Reporting and SQL Azure Data Sync CTPs, simply access these new releases via the Windows Azure Management Portal.  And check back later this morning and again tomorrow for Greg Leake’s detailed posts on these announcements!

Click here for more information about Windows Azure and SQL Azure sessions at PASS Summit 2011. Click here to watch demonstrations of many of these new features, made during the PASS Summit keynote by Quentin Clark, corporate vice president, SQL Server Database System Group at Microsoft.