Microsoft is making available a first Community Technology Preview (CTP) test build of "Houston," a tool for those looking to do rapid database development in the cloud.
CTP 1 of Houston is downloadable from Microsoft's SQL Azure Labs site.
Microsoft first demonstrated Houston at its Professional Developers Conference in late 2009. At its Mix conference this past spring, company officials shared more about Houston, noting it is a browser-based Silverlight control that will allow developers to interact directly with SQL Azure, Microsoft's cloud database.
Here's how Microsoft officials are describing Houston, via a July 21 post to the SQL Azure Team Blog: "Project 'Houston' provides a web-based database management tool for basic database management tasks like authoring and executing queries, designing and editing a database schema, and editing table data."
There is no estimated ship date for the final version of Houston mentioned in the post. I'll update if I can get one.
Last week at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner conference, Microsoft announced that "Dallas," another cloud-related tool/service coming from Redmond, is going to be available in the fourth quarter of 2010. A third CTP of Dallas is due by mid-August.
Dallas is a service for discovering, purchasing and buying "premium data subscriptions" (both public and private data) that can be used by those developing and running applications on Windows Azure. Dallas includes a common marketplace and a provisioning/billing framework.
Content providers which already have committed to providing “Dallas” data include NASA, National Geographic, Associated Press, Zillow.com, and Weather Central.