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Microsoft Azure Beefs Up Cloud-Based Database Support

The big public cloud providers are offering more support for enterprise-grade tools and services within their platforms in order to get customers to move their workloads over. Database is one these services, and Microsoft is looking to give developers an answer.

At the start of its Build Conference in Seattle on May 10, Microsoft rolled out its own cloud database offering dubbed Azure Cosmos DB. This globally distributed database is geared toward developers working in the cloud, and the company claims it can support the creation of cutting-edge applications, including ones for artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Azure Cosmos DB started out as an internal database within Redmond, and it has been developed over the past seven years for enterprise use outside the company. Microsoft claims the new database can support any kind of data developers want, including graph data, and offers support for NoSQL APIs.

Since it's designed for global scale -- "planet-scale" in Microsoft parlance -- developers can host their data anywhere, and then move that data around to other parts of the world to follow demand for the application.

Scott Guthrie, Cloud and Enterprise Group EVP, at Microsoft Build 2017.  (Source: Microsoft)
Scott Guthrie, Cloud and Enterprise Group EVP, at Microsoft Build 2017.
(Source: Microsoft)

"Azure Cosmos DB allows you to elastically scale across any number of geographical regions while delivering the industry's only financially backed database SLA across availability, latency, throughput, and consistency," Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise Group, wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

In addition to Cosmos DB, Microsoft announced it would support two of the most popular open source databases available: MySQL and PostgreSQL. The company now offers support for both as a managed service through its Azure cloud.


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"Increasingly, developers want to move to database-as-a-service options, to maximize productivity. Azure is making it possible to develop using any database you prefer and use it as a service," Guthrie wrote.

Microsoft is also planning a preview of a new database migration services designed for Oracle and SQL Server customers.

It's not unusual for the big public cloud providers to unleash several enterprise features all at once to assure developer communities that they are meetings their cloud needs. In April, Amazon Web Services CTO Werner Vogels did much the same, again focusing a good deal on databases services within the cloud, including a beta version of its own PostgreSQL-compatible Aurora database. (See AWS CTO Unleashes Torrent of Developer Features.)

As more public cloud providers offer support for relational databases, customers could start seeing price cuts. A recent report by 451 Research found that object storage prices are dropping thanks to increased competition, and databases could be next. (See Storage Now Driving New Cloud Pricing Fight: Report.)

The AWS and now Microsoft announcements seem to herald that change.

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— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

mhhfive 5/18/2017 | 6:23:53 PM
Re: Is this a credible threat to Oracle? I think what may happen is that there will be resellers who provide a "high touch" service on top of Google/Microsoft/Amazon's cloud. If the "big 3" don't want to provide the hand-holding services to smaller companies, that is. 

There will always be middlemen..... 
Phil_Britt 5/18/2017 | 1:18:16 PM
Re: Is this a credible threat to Oracle? Though there are smaller cloud players that might be more viable for certain niches/uses, the bigger providers, through economies of scale, generally can undercut costs so severely that even those users who might prefer niche players are likely to go to the larger suppliers -- as long as they aren't ignored too much in terms of service.
mhhfive 5/14/2017 | 3:43:55 PM
Re: Is this a credible threat to Oracle? I don't think it's only a "big three" -- there are dozens of other cloud providers that are offering niche services that could be more appealing to small businesses or regional companies or companies with very specific requirements. The "big three" don't really offer much hand-holding unless your company is in the hundreds of millions in revenue already.
danielcawrey 5/14/2017 | 11:48:49 AM
Re: Is this a credible threat to Oracle? There's a big three battle going on with Amazon, Google and Microsoft. 

I think it's great, for so long people had to deal with just Microsoft in enterprise infrastructure. Cloud services are really changing things for the better. 
mhhfive 5/11/2017 | 7:31:12 PM
Re: Is this a credible threat to Oracle? There are plenty of cloud based databases, but MSFT chose to launch its own proprietary flavor of database -- in addition to supporting MySQL and open source databases. So I take that to mean MSFT is looking to compete with other databases with its own software.
Scott_Ferguson 5/11/2017 | 5:03:11 PM
Re: Is this a credible threat to Oracle? @mhhfive: I think of this more as Microsoft offering database as a service through Azure than a big, re-invention of database technology itself. It was interesting that they rolled out a homegrown product for one part, but that fact that they are now supporting two open source database products through Azure is pretty interesting. 
mhhfive 5/11/2017 | 12:02:58 AM
Is this a credible threat to Oracle? I doubt Oracle is shaking in its boots just yet, but maybe someday it will be. I thought the "database wars" were pretty much over. 
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