Monday, January 19, 2009

SQL Data Services Getting Started

In my last post I talked about Windows Azure. One of the components of Azure is SQL Data Services (SDS), formally known as SQL Server Data Services (SSDS), which is Microsoft’s “database in the cloud”. If you want to start learning about Azure, SDS is a good place to start since you can use it without having to setup a full Azure development environment. In this posting I will discuss how to get setup to work with SDS.

The first step is to sign up for Azure Service Platform invitation codes, you can do that on this page Microsoft is trying to regulate how many developers get on the service so you may not be able to access all the parts of Azure immediately. Once you have applied you will receive a series of e-mails with the codes. The e-mails come in pairs, the first one gives you the code and the second lets you know that is has been activated. There are three different codes and you probably won’t get them all at the same time. The one needed to access SDS is the “Microsoft .NET Services and Microsoft SQL Services” code. I received my code for this service within 24 hours of signing up, but it may take longer. At the time of this writing I haven’t received codes for any of the other services.

Once you receive the code you will then have to sign up for the actual service. In the activation confirmation e-mail there will be a link to the page where you can enter the invitation code. At this point you will be asked to create a new solution. You just have to provide a name for the solution which will also become the username for logging into the service. You can only have one solution per invitation code. Once you have created the solution you will be provided a password for that solution.

The final step in setting up for SDS is to download and install the SDS SDK. Unlike the Azure SDK which requires Vista or Server 2008, the SDS SDK works under XP and even Windows 2000.

Once you have the SDK installed you can test things out. In the SDK folder on the Start Menu you will find a tool called SSDS explorer. When you start the tool you should see “” in the address bar and “from e in entities select e” in the query box. Click the Query button and a box will pop up allowing you to enter your username and password. The username is the name of the solution you created and the password is the one you received when you created the solution. The query should run without returning any errors.

Now we are finally ready to start working with SDS. I will start getting into the details of how SDS works in my next posting.

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