Azure Tables or SQL Azure?

I’m beginning to see questions come up over “which should I use, SQL Azure or Azure Table Services?”  The answer for now seems to be, “it depends.”

Azure Tables seem to have better pricing.  The scalability also seems to be a push.

SQL Azure will be quicker to learn for most of us, since it uses almost all the same T-SQL code we’ve been using for years.  If you’re moving from a dedicated SQL Server to Azure, moving to SQL Azure would be the easiest choice.  There are even some migration tools I’ll be checking out later this week! (I’d like to thank Roger Jennings for the heads-up on the SQL Azure migration tools.)

Right now, there is a limitation to Azure Tables you should be aware of.  Currently Azure Tables does not support secondary indexes.  It has been announced that it’s coming soon, but until it’s here, it’s missing.

I would like to put forward the idea of a hybrid solution, use SQL Azure for your indexes, and table and blob storage for the rest.  Many people would find it to be too time consuming to split their project like this.  It would be interesting to see what sort of performance you could get from such a solution.

Also, once secondary indexes are added to Azure Tables… you’re pretty much looking at a cloud based NoSQL solution.

What do you think?  Have any of you had the chance to run the two side by side on the same project, or is this entirely a mental exercise?

By Shannon Lowder

Shannon Lowder is the Database Engineer you've been looking for! Look no further for expertise in: Business Analysis to gather the business requirements for the database; Database Architecting to design the logical design of the database; Database Development to actually build the objects needed by the business logic; finally, Database Administration to keep the database running in top form, and making sure there is a disaster recovery plan.

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