The following is a guest post by Tom “Tera-Tom” Coffing, CEO of Coffing Data Warehousing, teacher of more than 1,000 high-tech classes, author of more than 70 books, and the owner of the Nexus Chameleon.

The conception of the Microsoft Azure cloud and the announcement of the Azure SQL Data Warehouse once again shows Microsoft is on the forefront of the most advanced paradigm shift the computer industry has seen since the abacus paved the way for the first computer.

Many companies have utilized top minds to produce world-changing technologies, but few have been able to continue that tradition of brilliance. Microsoft continues to understand the changing environment and comprehend reality in order to lead change.

The architecture of the Azure SQL Data Warehouse utilizes strong fundamental engineering techniques that allow users a robust development environment in T-SQL, and the power derived from the linear scalability design invites growth with their MPP platform. Customers can feel comfortable with migrating applications because they can choose from the many design options such as hash distribution, replication, and row or columnar storage along with partitioning.

But the true value lies in the fact that customers can purchase as much or as little of the system they need at the time and add or subtract space in near real-time. Instead of having to purchase traditional systems that utilize proprietary hardware, customers now have the options of producing the exact same environment in the cloud, with Microsoft handling all of the difficult tasks automatically in a secure environment. This is the future of computing, and it is as self-evident as the Internet gaining momentum over time.

Commodity hardware in the cloud can save corporations up to 80% and deliver a more robust and versatile environment. In the past, companies generally purchased a single proprietary system for each division. A division only queried its platform, and when the system was no longer needed, there was no redeployment. Today companies are leveraging the cloud, saving incredible amounts of money and redeploying systems as needed.

Another paradigm shift that has come from big data, competition, and the need for continual improvement is the need to query across many platforms in order to improve processes across different divisions within the company. There are no longer OLTP systems versus decision support systems, and information within the company is now applied to improvement in every division.

The Microsoft Azure cloud and the Azure SQL Data Warehouse offer an affordable and scalable way to integrate all systems as if they were one. Data is data, and every computer in the world sees zeroes and ones and derives value from those bits. This value should be able to be derived across any and all platforms, in-house or cloud-oriented, whether or not those systems come from the traditional mainframe, Oracle, SQL Server, Netezza, Teradata, Vertica, Hadoop, or any other system.

Microsoft has provided the perfect cloud environment and roadmap for cloud computing.

There is a secret sauce that is vital to all companies who want to take advantage of what the future of cloud computing holds. That secret sauce lies in the desktop of every user. That is where I put my money where my mouth was more than a decade ago. I believe that gamble paid off, and it is called the Nexus Chameleon.

Nobody was prepared to perform cross-system joins, to convert DDL and move data between different systems, or to provide the visualization necessary to put a basic business user on the same playing field with a world-class data scientist.

I designed and hired a very intelligent group of developers to build a tool that worked on all platforms. One that allows users to write and execute SQL but also provide a look and feel that shows users tables and views in color, shows the relationships to other tables, and one that allows the users to point and click and have the SQL built for them automatically.

I designed the tool to work extremely well on Teradata, then began working directly with Netezza, DatAllegro, Greenplum, IBM, Oracle, ParAccel, HP, Amazon, and Microsoft so the Nexus Chameleon would work equally as well on their platforms. This was no easy task, and it has been a decade of extremely intensive work, but now the Nexus integrates all systems together as if users were still querying a single system.

The cloud is the platform of the future, and the Nexus is the desktop secret sauce of the future. Nexus allows any user to do five things that were once thought impossible:

1) Show tables and views visually, their relationships, and with each point and click build the SQL automatically.

2) Migrate tables and their data to and from different platforms at lightning speeds with a few clicks.

3) Visually show tables and views across the entire enterprise on all systems and build conversions, migrations, ETL scripts, and SQL with each click so every user can perform cross-system joins as easily as if they were doing a two-table join on the same system.

4) Compare and synchronize tables across different platforms with a few clicks.

5) Allow users to query every system within their enterprise, bring a wide variety of answer sets back to the desktop, then give users the ability to drag and drop column headers to templates in order to re-query these answer sets within the desktop.

How excited are we to have Nexus on the Microsoft Azure cloud, and how lucky are we to have tuned the Nexus for Azure SQL Server and the Azure SQL Data Warehouse? Incredibly excited and incredibly lucky.

How excited will you be when you are performing cross-system joins from Teradata, Oracle, SQL Server, Hadoop, and Azure SQL Data Warehouse, and how lucky will you be in knowing the future of cloud computing and cross-system querying is there for you in the cloud and on the virtual desktop? Incredibly excited and incredibly lucky!