Microsoft has moved to make database services running on the Microsoft Azure cloud more accessible by enhancing the level of support it provides Java and PHP developers, while also making available a data management gateway based on an implementation of OData that they created using RESTful APIs.
Tiffany Wissner, senior director for data platform marketing at Microsoft, says Microsoft Azure now supports the latest versions of both Java and PHP and that the company is also previewing an implementation of the Azure SQL database that it says provides near-complete SQL Server engine compatibility. Microsoft claims that internal tests using over 600 million rows of data show query performance improvements of up to a factor of five. In addition, Microsoft says that when applying in-memory column store using the new engine, performance improvements can be as much as 100x.
For Microsoft, providing that compatibility is critical as it seeks to migrate the massive installed base of Windows applications running on premises these days into the Azure cloud. Rather than seeing those applications migrate into other cloud computing environments, Microsoft is betting that providing as much fidelity as possible between the two environments will entice organizations to incorporate Microsoft Azure into their hybrid cloud computing environments.
As part of that effort, Microsoft has also developed a gateway using OData that connects its Analytics Platform System based on an implementation of Hadoop running on premises with the company’s Power BI and Azure Machine Learning services running on Microsoft Azure. Specifically, the Microsoft Data Management Gateway is a client agent that exposes data on premises as an OData feed, which can then be invoked using Microsoft PolyBase tools for unifying queries across SQL and Hadoop environments.
Not content to stop at SQL Server workloads, Microsoft has also released a tool for migrating IBM DB2 workloads alongside Oracle workloads to SQL Server environments.
Rather than forcing every application workload into the cloud, Microsoft has been crafting a hybrid cloud computing strategy that increasingly relies on RESTful APIs. By exposing more Azure services using those APIs, the company expects IT organizations to view Azure as a more natural extension of their existing IT environments. By comparison, Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Cloud don’t offer such tight integration with existing Windows applications running on premises.
It remains to be seen how effective Microsoft’s hybrid cloud computing strategy will ultimately prove to be. But at this point it seems Microsoft is committed to making sure that at the very least the strategy won’t fail for want of developer tools to implement it.