Using “Houston” to Manage SQL Azure Databases

Up until now, your only option for managing SQL Azure cloud databases was using an on-premise SQL Server Management Console and pointing to your cloud database.  The SQL Azure team has released a CTP of “Houston” which is a web-based, Silverlight environment for doing all sorts of stuff with your SQL Azure database.  Instead of just telling you about it, I figured I’d show it.

First, you need to create a SQL Azure database (assuming that you don’t already have one).  Mine is named SeroterSample.  I’m feeling very inspired this evening.


Next up, we make sure to have a firewall rule allowing Microsoft services to access the database.


After this, we want to grab our database connection details via the button at the bottom of the Databases view.


Now go to the SQL Azure labs site and select the Project Houston CTP 1 tab.


We then see a futuristic console which either logs me into project Houston or launches a missile.


If the login is successful, we get the management dashboard.  It contains basic management operations at the top (“new table”, “new stored procedure”, “open query”, etc), a summary of database schema objects on the left, and an unnecessary but interesting “cube of info” in the middle.


The section in the middle (aka “cube of info”) rotates as you click the arrows and shows various data points.  Hopefully a future feature includes a jack-in-the-box that pops out of the top.

I chose to create a new table in my database.  We are shown an interface where we build up our table structure by choosing columns, data types, default values, data types and more.


After creating a few columns and renaming my table, I clicked the Save button on the top left of the screen to commit my changes.  I can now see my table in the list of artifacts belonging to my database.


It’s great to have a table, but let’s put some data into that bad boy.  Clicking the table name re-opens the design view by default.  We can select the Data view at the top to actually add rows to our table.


I’m not exactly sure how to delete artifacts except through manual queries.  For kicks and giggles I clicked the New View option, and when I canceled out of it, I still ended up with a view in the artifact list.  Right-clicking is not something that is available anywhere in the application, and there was no visible way to delete the view short of create a new Query and deleting it from there.  That said, when I logged out and logged back in, the view was no longer there.  So, because I didn’t explicitly save it, the view was removed when I disconnected.

All in all, this is a fine, light-weight management interface for our cloud database.  It wasn’t until I was halfway through my demonstration that I realized that I did all my interactions on the portal through a Chrome browser.  Cross-browser stuff is much more standard now, but, still nice to see.

Because I have no confidence that my Azure account is accurately tied to my MSDN Subscription, I predict that this demonstration has cost me roughly $14,000 in Azure data fees.  You all are worth it though.


Author: Richard Seroter

Richard Seroter is Director of Developer Relations and Outbound Product Management at Google Cloud. He’s also an instructor at Pluralsight, a frequent public speaker, the author of multiple books on software design and development, and a former editor plus former 12-time Microsoft MVP for cloud. As Director of Developer Relations and Outbound Product Management, Richard leads an organization of Google Cloud developer advocates, engineers, platform builders, and outbound product managers that help customers find success in their cloud journey. Richard maintains a regularly updated blog on topics of architecture and solution design and can be found on Twitter as @rseroter.

2 thoughts

  1. So… if the login is unsuccessful, is that when it launches the missile? Where’s it aimed? There are some places I wouldn’t mind “accidentally” logging in incorrectly for…

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