@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Ram Sonagara

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo

@CloudExpo: Article

Using SQL Azure for SOA Quality Testing

SQL Azure provides affordable and rapid collaboration across SOA Test teams using SOAPSonar

Throwing its hat in the Platform as a Service (PaaS) ring, Microsoft has joined the likes for Salesforce.com and Google with its annoucement of Microsoft Azure Platform. Microsoft Windows Azure Platform provides three primary components:

  1. Windows Azure: A cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform.
  2. SQL Azure: A cloud hosted relational database that removes the burdens of RDBMS installation, patching, upgrades and overall software management for relational databases.
  3. AppFabric: A platform that enables users to build and manage applications easily both on-premises and in the cloud.

To better understand the components offered by MS Azure, we registered for MS Azure Platform and browsed through the three components. SQL Azure turned out to be the easiest one to configure and do something useful with, so we built a mashup that utilizes MS SQL Azure as a centeral repository for SOA Testing. In this article, we share our impressions of SQL Azure and how to automate SOA quality assurance by building test cases that use data from a SQL Azure instance.


By using a cloud-based RDBMS, such as MS SQL Azure, developer and testors can gain the following benefits:

  • Better Collaboration across testors by sharing test data within and across enterprise boundaries and geographies.
  • Ease of Management by eliminating the burden of downloading, installing, patching and managing a Database used for storing SOA test data values.
  • Increased Nimbleness by eliminating resources contention and scheduling bottlenecks by "spinning up" new instance of Database servers within minutes for SOA Testing teams.
  • Cost Reduction inherently associated with on-demand and elastic nature of cloud computing by eliminating on-premise hardware and software.

To understand SQL Azure and its utility for collaborative SOA Testing, we built a mash up between SQL Azure, a target web service IsValidEmail(email address) and SOAPSonar, a SOA Testing tool from Crosscheck Network.  Figure 1 shows the overall setup scenario where SQL Azure is used to maintain and share test data consumed by geographically disparate SOA testers tasked with testing services for a SOA deployment.

Figure 1:  SQL Azure setup for collaborative SOA testing

Figure 1: SQL Azure setup for collaborative SOA testing

We started by registering for an Azure account and creating a SQL Azure Database. After setting firewall rules that permit remote access, we installed Microsoft SQL Management Studio and connected to the SQL Azure Database. With SQL Management Studio, we were able to create tables and insert data into the tables. We then installed SOAPSonar and imported the publicly available WSDL containing a single test service, IsValidOperation(email), that checks for the validity of an email address. The details of SQL Azure setup and data automation for SOA testing configuration are provided below along with details of issues that we encountered along the way.

The SQL Azure setup involves acquiring an Azure account, creating a Database instance, configuring firewall rules for remote access, creating tables and inserting data in the tables. These steps are explained is detail below.

Azure Account Registration: Windows Azure platform, provides an introductory SQL Azure Web edition instance with 1GB of storage. Standard rate for the web edition beyond the 3 months is $9.99/month. Setup is simple and straight forward. You can get started by obtaining an Azure Account.

Database Creation: Once you have your account, you can create a database using the online SQL Azure Web Interface.

Figure 2: SQL Azure Create Database Server Interface

The Location field in Figure 2 above provides two options: i) South Central US and ii) East Asia. This indicates that SQL Azure is primed for low-latency, regional content delivery at least for a couple of regions.

Firewall Configuration: One of the areas to watch out for is the Firewall settings below. You will need to check the "Allow Microsoft Service access to this server" check box that will add a Firewall rule as shown in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3: SQL Azure Database Firewall settings for internal access

In addition to firewall rule shown in Figure 3 that enables you to test connectivity within the cloud environment, you must also add a new rule that enables your external network/machine/laptop - acting as a client to communicate with your SQL Azure Server instance. Add Rule shows your local address range that should be permitted to communicate with the SQL Azure Server. If you don't enable such a firewall rule, you'll get an error, such as:

Error initializing Data Source




Cannot open server 'yourAzureSQLServer' requested by the login.

Client with IP address 'xx.xxx.xxx.xxx' is not allowed to access the server.

Login failed for user 'yourAdmin'.

Database Management: SQL Azure exposes rudimentary database create and drop functions. One of the useful features is Connection Strings as shown in bottom left of Figure 4 below. This is a handy feature that provides you with a copy of the connection string that you can paste in your application to connect to a SQL Azure database instance.

Figure 4: SQL Azure Database Management functions

We are accostomed to the rich, internet-based, phpMyAdmin console for managing MySQL databases including the ability to create, drop, and update tables, browse data and write adhoc SQL queries. We expected similar functionality available through the internet console for Micrsoft SQL Azure. In the case of SQL Azure, however, you have two options for managing your database engine: use sqlcmd utility or SQLSever Management Studio. Both options require client side installation. After a little bit of digging around, we found the right version of SQLManagementStudio x86 Executable "tools only" download that was 155MB in size instead of a full 1.26GB SQL Server 2008 November R2 version. After a relative painless installation of SQL Server Management Studio, we were able to connect to SQL Azure, create a table, and insert data into the tables. Figure 5 below shows the SQL queries exectued on SQL Azure using the SQLServer Management Studio.

Figure 5: SQL Server Management Studio for managing SQL Azure

While creating the tables and inserting data, we stumbled on a requirement that SQL Azure expects you to create an index. Without an index, you will see the following error.

Msg 40054, Level 16, State 1, Line 8 Tables without a clustered index are not supported in this version of SQL Server.

Please create a clustered index and try again.

We expect that newer versions of SQL Azure will provide a richer, internet-based management experience and elimate the burden of installing client tools to manage what is after all a cloud-based component.

Using a cloud-based repository for test data provides a number of benefits including test team collaboration across disparate locations and ease of management. Here are the steps to setup SOA test automation using a SQL Azure instance:

Install SOA Testing Tool: We used SOAPSonar Automation Edition from Crosscheck Networks, .NET-based REST XML/SOAP client used for comprehensive web services testing. SOAPSonar insta ller will ask you for required packages, such as .NET Framework 2.0 or higher, if it is not already available on your machine.

Load WSDL: The WSDL for the public service IsValidEmail(email) is published at the following URL: http://www.webservicex.net/ValidateEmail.asmx?WSDL. Paste this URL into SOAPSonar as shown in Figure 6 below to load the WSDL. Select the IsValidEmail test case in the left Project Tree Panel. Enter a test value and execute the test. You will see the SOAP response in the Response Panel.

Configure SQL Azure DB Connection: To connect SOAPSonar to SQL Azure, click on Connection Strings button as shown in Figure 4 above and copy the ADO.NET connection string to the clipboard. Click on Data Sources as shown in Figure 6 below and select the SQL Server Data Source.

Figure 6: SOAPSonar Automation Data Source Configuration Panel

Now you can paste the connection string into SOAPSonar as shown in Figure 7 below and change the Query to point to your table. In our sample case, the table is named Editor. You can now click on the Tables icon in the lower right of the panel shown in Figure 7 to View Data from SQL Azure.

Figure 7: Setting connection parameter from SOAPSonar to SQL Azure

At this stage, you have established connectivity to SQL Azure and are now ready to use the data for test automation.

Use Automation Data: The database table, Editor, that we used in this mashup consist of an Email column that can be selected for automated invocation of the operation IsEmailValid(emailaddress). Simply select the data source as shown is Figure 8 below and exectute the test.

Figure 8: Setting connection parameter from SOAPSonar to SQL Azure

For all Email enteries in the Editor table, nine in our case, SOAPSonar sends SOAP requests to the IsValidEmail Web service gathers the SOAP responses. You can click on Report View to look at SOAP request and response for each Email value in the table. Using a database in this fashion eliminates mannual setting of a test case for each email address. A single test case can be authored with data used from a data store such as SQL Azure. Test success criteria for each test case can also be inserted in the database tables and used to evaluate sucess or failiure for each request.

SQL Azure is a promising option for corporations that deploy Micrsoft technology and are interested in leveraging cloud computing to reduce IT costs and respond rapidly to business requirements. For companies that are simply looking for hosted relational databases, other options such as MySQL hosted by Amazon EC2, Rackspace, GoGrid or OpSource serve as strong alternatives.

Our impressions of SQL Azure have been positive. Through firewall rules, security provisions are adequete and not overwhelming for database and application developers. We do expect a richer web-based management interface in the future that goes beyond just creating an dropping databases. Although SQL Management Studio, installed locally on your machine, provides powerful management capabilities, it dilutes the power of installation-free, cloud-based components.

Corporations can use Quality Assurance and Testing as low-hanging use-cases for cloud computing. Companies should be less concerned about storing test data in external clouds compared to, for example, real customer data. Using SQL Azure for SOA test automation provides better collaboration for test teams, ease of database management and a cheaper alternative to procuring and maintaining on-premise test infrastructure.


  1. The NIST Defintion of Cloud Computing
  2. Microsoft Windows Azure Platform
  3. Microsoft SQL Management Studio Tools Only Installation
  4. Sample Datebase Table, Editor with data insert SQL Scripts: DDJ-Index.sql
  5. Email Validation Web service
  6. SOA Testing Tool: SOAPSonar from Crosscheck Networks

More Stories By Mamoon Yunus

Mamoon Yunus is an industry-honored CEO and visionary in Web Services-based technologies. As the founder of Forum Systems, he pioneered XML Security Gateways & Firewalls and was granted a patent for XML Gateway Appliances. He has spearheaded Forum's direction and strategy for eight generations of award-winning XML Security products. Prior to Forum Systems, Yunus was a Global Systems Engineer for webMethods (NASD: WEBM) where he developed XML-based business integration and architecture plans for Global 2000 companies such as GE, Pepsi, Siemens, and Mass Mutual. He has held various high-level executive positions at Informix (acquired by IBM) and Cambridge Technology Group.

He holds two Graduate Degrees in Engineering from MIT and a BSME from Georgia Institute of Technology. InfoWorld recognized Yunus as one of four "Up and coming CTOs to watch in 2004." He is a sought-after speaker at industry conferences such as RSA, Gartner, Web Services Edge, CSI, Network Interop, and Microsoft TechEd. Yunus has the distinction of showcasing Forum Systems' entrepreneurial leadership as a case study at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He has also been featured on CNBC as Terry Bradshaw's "Pick of the Week."

@CloudExpo Stories
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...
Evan Kirstel is an internationally recognized thought leader and social media influencer in IoT (#1 in 2017), Cloud, Data Security (2016), Health Tech (#9 in 2017), Digital Health (#6 in 2016), B2B Marketing (#5 in 2015), AI, Smart Home, Digital (2017), IIoT (#1 in 2017) and Telecom/Wireless/5G. His connections are a "Who's Who" in these technologies, He is in the top 10 most mentioned/re-tweeted by CMOs and CIOs (2016) and have been recently named 5th most influential B2B marketeer in the US. H...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
@DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises - and delivering real results.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
"We started a Master of Science in business analytics - that's the hot topic. We serve the business community around San Francisco so we educate the working professionals and this is where they all want to be," explained Judy Lee, Associate Professor and Department Chair at Golden Gate University, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Dez Blanchfield joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Dez is a strategic leader in business and digital transformation with 25 years of experience in the IT and telecommunications industries developing strategies and implementing business initiatives. He has a breadth of expertise spanning technologies such as cloud computing, big data and analytics, cognitive computing, m...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...