At the Professional Developer Conference 2008 Microsoft kicked off a major wave of innovation with the announcement of the Azure Services Platform. A key piece of that technology wave is SQL Data Services (SDS).

Over the last 4 months, SDS early adopters have been working with our REST service interface with its flexible entity based data model. While we’ve received a positive response on that model, we have had significant feedback asking for more direct relational database capabilities such as SQL queries, relational schema and stored procedures. Our plan has always been to provide more relational capabilities over time. What is changing is that rather than trying to expose relational capabilities through continuous invention at our REST interface level, we are going to accelerate delivery of these features by exposing SQL Server’s existing network protocol, Tabular Data Stream (TDS), directly as the service protocol. With this evolution, SDS will become the first relational database service in the market to provide customers with the ability to use existing investments in T-SQL development and use a full relational data model in the Cloud. In addition to this, SDS will enable developer agility and quick time to market by supporting the use of existing applications, tools and knowledge, while benefitting from the new distributed, cloud based functionality of SDS. This strategy enables customers to use a relational database service for their applications built on the Azure Services Platform

With the acceleration to a T-SQL based standard relational data model, we will migrate from the current SOAP and REST based Authority-Container-Entity (ACE) data model. We will announce plans for decommissioning the existing REST based SDS service when we introduce the new TDS based SDS Service.  Customers who wish to expose REST based access to their SDS relational data can do so by building custom services with ADO.NET Data Services.  Customers who wish to use a REST based programming model and whose needs are met with non-relational structured data storage have the option of using Windows Azure table storage which directly exposes an ADO.NET Data Services compliant REST service endpoint. We’ll be working with existing early adopter customers to provide guidance on the appropriate migration path. 

SDS, with TDS support, will be available as a public CTP in mid calendar year 2009 and commercially available in the second half of calendar year 2009.

We will be announcing technical details of the TDS based SDS service at MIX 2009. For more details, please visit the SQL Data Services Team blog.

As always, we are eager to get more feedback from the community, post them here or email the team. Those interested in SDS, should also keep an eye on the SQL Data Services Developer Center for more info.

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