Microsoft Azure Gets Database and Search Services Additions

Microsoft announced a few Azure improvements today that may be of interest for data analysts or developers needing to connect applications to databases or search services.

On the big data side of things, Microsoft announced the "general availability" today of HBase on the Azure HDInsight service. HDInsight is Microsoft's Hadoop-based cloud computing service that used for analyzing piles of structured and unstructured data. Apache HBase, on the other hand, is an open source nonrelational database that can host tables with "billions of rows x millions of columns" using commodity hardware clusters, according to the Apache Software Foundation's definition. HBase data are stored on Microsoft Azure as Blob data. Developers might use HBase to store sensor data or Web site data for later analysis via the HDInsight service, according to Microsoft's announcement. The latest version of HDInsight, version 3.1, is the only one that currently supports HBase, according to Microsoft's component list.

Microsoft also rolled out a "preview" of Azure DocumentDB today. DocumentDB is Microsoft's version of a NoSQL database as a service, with built-in support for JSON and JavaScript. Microsoft claims that DocumentDB enables schema-free development. It allows developers to support applications across multiple platforms via NoSQL while adding support for "the query processing and transaction semantics common to relational database systems," according to Microsoft. Azure Document DB includes library support for ".NET, Node.js, JavaScript, and Python," and Microsoft indicated it plans to contribute "client libraries to the open source community."

Lastly, Microsoft issued a "preview" of Azure Search, which is Microsoft's search service that can be used in applications. Microsoft described Azure Search as a fully managed service.

"Customers do not have to worry about the complexities of full-text search or deploying, maintaining or managing a search infrastructure," Microsoft's announcement explained.

The search service is accessed through an API "from any platform or development environment." It provides management for searches that need to plough through large volumes of data.

Microsoft also indicated today that it has bulked up its virtual machine (VM) image collection that's accessed through the Azure Portal (currently in preview) and the Azure Gallery. There are now nearly 300 preconfigured VMs available, including many that are based on open source Linux-based operating systems.

If all of that Azure news weren't enough, Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group, detailed a whole roster of Microsoft Azure improvements and updates that were made back in July.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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