Microsoft Project Code-Named "Houston" has been released in its CTP 1 version today. Houston is a web-based database management tool for SQL Azure databases, and is designed to be lightweight and as easy to use as possible.
SQL Azure is part of Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud computing platform. SQL Azure is a cloud-based database, built on top of the SQL Server technologies which provide a hosted solutions to many sites running on the .NET platform. SQL Azure allows developers to implement a scalable and secure custom web application, without the need to worry about installing and updating software or managing physical hardware.
With this CTP of Houston, the project is now deployed to all of the Windows Azure datacenters, allowing administrators to more efficiently manage their databases from within the same datacenter. Other improvements include updates to the user interface to improve usability, and performance enhancements.
The release of Houston is part of Service Update 4 to the Azure platform, which also includes a new feature in SQL Azure that enables Database Copy. Database Copy does a realtime copy of your database to another machine in the datacenter. While this is useful for backing up data before making schema changes or removing data, it is more important as the first step in enabling backup support in SQL Azure.
In other Azure-related news, the Windows Azure Team made available on their blog a set of security resources, to help you develop more secure applications in the cloud.