I’d like to tell you about an exciting announcement from Microsoft and that is the preview of Machine Learning Services with R inside the Azure SQL Database platform.
Why this is a big announcement is that if you’re familiar with the Azure SQL Database platform, you know it has very close feature parity with the on-premises version of SQL Server. This means that most anything you can do with the on-prem version of SQL Server is also available in Azure SQL Database.
That is except for using R or Machine Learning Services. This was not available in the Azure SQL Database platform until the release of this preview.
If you understand how R in SQL Server on-prem works, the R Service is integrated with SQL Server and we can initiate R scripts and train models in R from SQL Server, but the R engine is running under a different process or context.
Since it’s not running as part of the database engine itself, it makes sense that this was one feature that wasn’t included in the Azure SQL Database. But now it is, and I think it’s a pretty big deal.
A couple things to note as it is in preview:
- It’s only available if you’re using the vCore pricing model, not the DTU model. If you have databases on the DTU model, you can convert those to vCore, then use R Services that way.
- It is only available in selected regions at this point.
As of now, this is only R, but my guess is that at some point they would offer Python support as well since we have that in the on premises version of SQL Server. But I do think this is an exciting announcement to share and if this is something you’ve been waiting for, check it out in preview.
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