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Microsoft updates SQL for the cloud

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the cloud, Microsoft announces a new SQL server that bridges the on-site/cloud gap.

SQL Azure

Microsoft's latest salvo in the war for cloud relevancy has taken shape as an update to SQL server, the software giant's flagship database product.

Denali, the code name for the next SQL server release, introduces a new development tool for Visual Studio that bridges the gap between building and deploying applications that cross the borders between the enterprise and the SQL Azure cloud service.

According to The Register, Microsoft is scheduled to make the first preview of Denali available to subscribers on MSDN and TechNet. The software will be released at the annual Professional Association for SQL Server conference in Seattle.

Additionally, Microsoft plans to release a set of Visual Studio 2010 plug-ins called Juneau that will allow developers to do offline validation of applications targeted for Azure.

There are few who would question both Microsoft's dominance on the desktop, but most would agree that the cloud offerings have to date been a bit confusing and occasionally underwhelming.

But, what Microsoft has in its corner is a vast army of developers addicted to Visual Studio. This alone provides an easy on-ramp to the Azure cloud services, whatever they may be.

I've argued a number of times that Microsoft has an enormous opportunity to get Visual Studio developers onto Azure seamlessly. And I continue to believe that Microsoft holds a massive advantage in gaining adoption over other cloud providers simply by having its cloud be the default deployment option. As to whether it can capitalize on its own footprint is a different story, but moves like this show that the Redmond giant is at least looking in the right direction.

That said, if there is one thing that you can count on with Microsoft it's the fact that nothing new is ever perfectly smooth. In this case, there are inconsistencies with the implementation of the SQL on-site and running on Azure. This will no doubt be remedied over time, but also illustrates how complicated it is for a large piece of software like SQL Server to make the transition to running as a service.