Today we are excited to announce the availability of the SQL Azure Q4 Service Release.  Announced at PASS Summit in October 2011 and now available worldwide, the Q4 2011 Service Release offers greater flexibility for scaling on demand, and simplifies database monitoring and management.  Specifically, we are tripling the maximum database size to 150 GB and introducing SQL Azure Federation to simplify the setup, management, and automation of shards for greater elastic scale.

In addition to the increase in DB size, we are also pleased to announce a price cap, which will lower the effective cost per GB for customers with large databases.  Effective today, the maximum price per SQL Azure DB is $499.95.  This change allows customers with 50 GB databases and larger to continue to grow without additional costs.  Customers that use 150 GB DBs will see their effective price per GB drop by 67%.

Other enhancements in this release are detailed below.  Check back for a deep-dive post in the next few days detailing the capabilities in the refreshed SQL Azure Management Portal, as well as a post on using the new SQL Azure Federation feature.

Note that user queries and existing applications should continue to function normally and should not be adversely affected by the upgrade to the SQL Azure Q4 Service Release. 

The Details:

The following new features are included with the SQL Azure Q4 2011 Service Release:

  • Increased maximum database size: As indicated above, the maximum database size for individual SQL Azure databases has been expanded 3x from 50 GB to 150 GB with the maximum aggregate charge per database per month capped at $499.95.   Click here for SQL Azure pricing information.
  • SQL Azure Federation: With database federations, databases can be elastically scaled out using sharding based on database size and application workload. This new feature makes it dramatically easier to set up the sharding database pattern, automate the process of adding new shards, and provides significant new functionality for easily managing database shards. Click here for more information.
  • Refreshed SQL Azure Management Portal: The new portal has a Metro-style user interface with new features including new workspaces with the ability to more easily monitor databases, drill-down into schemas, query plans, spatial data, indexes/keys, and query performance statistics (see screen shots below). The new portal also supports SQL Azure Federation.
  • Updated DAC Import/Export Service CTP:  The service has been updated to address several issues since its initial release in the last SQL Azure service release.  Customers can use this free service from the new management portal to easily import and export their database between SQL Azure and Windows Azure BLOB storage.  More information including a sample implementation is available on the CodePlex page available here.
  • Expanded support for user-controlled collations: When creating a database, users can now specify which collation to use.  Users can specify all valid collations returned from the fn_helpcollations() system function.  This function is now enabled in SQL Azure.  

You can check out some screen shots of the new Metro-style management portal below:


Tiles allow quick and easy access to common tasks

Drill-down into detailed database information

We are pleased to deliver these highly-requested updates as part of our commitment to deliver world class services in a simple and flexible way to customers.

Check back soon for additional posts covering new the new SQL Azure Management Portal and SQL Azure Federation.