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SQL Azure (formerly SQL Server Data Services and later SQL Services) is a cloud-based service from Microsoft offering data storage capabilities similar to Amazon S3 and Amazon Relational Database Service as a part of the Azure Services Platform. Unlike similar cloud-based databases, SQL Azure allows relational queries to be made against stored data, which can either be structured or semi-structured, or even unstructured documents.[1] SQL Azure features querying data, search, data analysis and data synchronization.[1]

SQL Azure uses Microsoft SQL Server as a backend, but it exposes only a subset of the data types — including string, numeric, date and boolean.[2] It uses an XML-based format for data transfer.[1] Like Microsoft SQL Server, SQL Azure uses T-SQL as the query language and Tabular Data Stream (TDS) as the protocol to access the service over internet.[1][3] It does not provide a REST-based API to access the service over HTTP.[1] Microsoft recommends using ADO.NET Data Services for this purpose.[1]

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