Microsoft continues to refine its Azure cloud platform for enterprise development, and the latest updates add a free version of SQL Server that customers can use for testing and development, along with a monitoring and management app for the Azure Data Factory data integration service.
SQL Server is one of the most widely deployed database management systems, and Microsoft is making it easier for developers to build apps for the cloud by making images of SQL Server Express with Tools 2014, 2012 and 2008 R2 available in the Azure Marketplace.
The version in question, SQL Server Express, can be used at no charge for testing and development, and for web and mobile apps with lightweight relational database needs, or "micro workloads", Microsoft said.
However, while SQL Server Express licensing is free, customers will still be charged for running any virtual machine instance that contains it. Microsoft advised customers to pause the virtual machine when they are not actively using it to maximise cost savings.
Microsoft has also added a monitoring and management application for Azure Data Factory to make it easier for customers using the data integration service as part of a big data project to keep closer tabs on the status of the data pipelines feeding into it.
Azure Data Factory is Microsoft's cloud-based data integration service that orchestrates and automates the process of ingesting, preparing, transforming and analysing data, using other services such as Azure HDInsight and Azure Machine Learning.
"Based on customer feedback, we have reimagined the monitoring and management experience in Azure Data Factory to make it more effective and intuitive for data developers and data scientists," said Gaurav Malhotra, Microsoft's Azure Data Factory programme manager, on the firm's Azure Blog.
The app is designed to present information in a simpler way and provide better insights into a customer's data pipelines, as well as letting data professionals enable batch processing actions in Azure Data Factory to improve developer productivity.
The new Monitoring and Management App improves efficiency for new and advanced users, offering a more intuitive experience, Malhotra said.
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