Using “Houston” to Manage SQL Azure Databases

Up until now, your only option for managing SQL Azure cloud databases was using an on-premise SQL Server Management Console and pointing to your cloud database.  The SQL Azure team has released a CTP of “Houston” which is a web-based, Silverlight environment for doing all sorts of stuff with your SQL Azure database.  Instead of just telling you about it, I figured I’d show it.

First, you need to create a SQL Azure database (assuming that you don’t already have one).  Mine is named SeroterSample.  I’m feeling very inspired this evening.

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Next up, we make sure to have a firewall rule allowing Microsoft services to access the database.

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After this, we want to grab our database connection details via the button at the bottom of the Databases view.

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Now go to the SQL Azure labs site and select the Project Houston CTP 1 tab.

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We then see a futuristic console which either logs me into project Houston or launches a missile.

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If the login is successful, we get the management dashboard.  It contains basic management operations at the top (“new table”, “new stored procedure”, “open query”, etc), a summary of database schema objects on the left, and an unnecessary but interesting “cube of info” in the middle.

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The section in the middle (aka “cube of info”) rotates as you click the arrows and shows various data points.  Hopefully a future feature includes a jack-in-the-box that pops out of the top.

I chose to create a new table in my database.  We are shown an interface where we build up our table structure by choosing columns, data types, default values, data types and more.

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After creating a few columns and renaming my table, I clicked the Save button on the top left of the screen to commit my changes.  I can now see my table in the list of artifacts belonging to my database.

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It’s great to have a table, but let’s put some data into that bad boy.  Clicking the table name re-opens the design view by default.  We can select the Data view at the top to actually add rows to our table.

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I’m not exactly sure how to delete artifacts except through manual queries.  For kicks and giggles I clicked the New View option, and when I canceled out of it, I still ended up with a view in the artifact list.  Right-clicking is not something that is available anywhere in the application, and there was no visible way to delete the view short of create a new Query and deleting it from there.  That said, when I logged out and logged back in, the view was no longer there.  So, because I didn’t explicitly save it, the view was removed when I disconnected.

All in all, this is a fine, light-weight management interface for our cloud database.  It wasn’t until I was halfway through my demonstration that I realized that I did all my interactions on the portal through a Chrome browser.  Cross-browser stuff is much more standard now, but, still nice to see.

Because I have no confidence that my Azure account is accurately tied to my MSDN Subscription, I predict that this demonstration has cost me roughly $14,000 in Azure data fees.  You all are worth it though.

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Categories: Cloud, SOA, SQL Azure

2 replies

  1. So… if the login is unsuccessful, is that when it launches the missile? Where’s it aimed? There are some places I wouldn’t mind “accidentally” logging in incorrectly for…

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  1. Scott Banwart's Blog » Blog Archive » Distributed Weekly 60

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