Windows Azure Gets Node.js, SQL Azure Federation, Increased DB Limits
Windows Azure team announced major updates including support for Node.js, better scalability for SQL Azure through Federation and higher individual DB Size limits (upto 150 GB), a limited preview for Hadoop and more.
Node.js joins .NET, Java and PHP as languages/frameworks that are natively supported by Windows Azure; other languages such as C++, Python and Scala can also be used but need installation of certain prerequisites in the Azure role using command line deployment tools (Steve Marx does great job of outlining how to do this on his blog). This comes immediately after CloudFoundry added support for .NET, and other PAAS vendors including Heroku, EngineYard and AppFog are making similar moves to support more than just one language or framework.
SQL Azure Federation makes it easier to shard/scale out relational data into multiple SQL Azure databases, so as to circumvent the individual database size limits, as well as improve data throughput. Sharding can be temporary or permanent - you can see this interesting case study on Flavorus, a ticketing solutions company, on how temporary sharding can handle predictable traffic spikes and reduce costs significantly.
Apart from this, Microsoft has released detailed guidelines on how to run some popular software, such as Solr/Lucene, MongoDB and MemCached, on Windows Azure roles. The use-case of Node.js with MongoDB is also covered.
Coming year, Microsoft is also planning to join Amazon, IBM and Cloudera in providing Hadoop-as-a-Service. The service is currently in limited preview and will have wider availability in coming months. You can read a detailed comparison between what various providers offer on InfoQ.
Apart from feature additions, the update also introduces certain price breaks, the most useful one coming in SQL Azure large databases – databases above 50 GB upto 150 GB will now cost a flat rate of $499/month. You can find more details on the Azure pricing page.