SQL Azure team released CTP1 of Microsoft Project Code-Named “Houston” which is available on SQL Azure Labs. This is a new web based tool hosted in Windows Azure that can be used to manage your SQL Azure database.
In the past the primary mechanism for managing SQL Azure has been SQL Server Management Studio. For everybody of the biggest challenges of using SQL Server Management Studio was the Developer wants to work with a new customer on the Data Sync Service for SQL Azure. If this customer wanted to try the Data Sync Service, it would require them to install a copy of SQL Server Management Studio to get started.
Now with Microsoft Project Code-Named “Houston”, people can go directly to this web based management tool and start creating their SQL Azure databases without installing anything. Once they created their databases, they can launch the Data Sync Service to start synchronizing that database to one or more SQL Azure databases around the world.
The other big benefit I find with Microsoft Project Code-Named “Houston” is the performance. Since it is hosted in the Windows Azure data centers, the latency (or time to communicate back and forth) with SQL Azure database is much less than with SQL Server Management Studio which in many cases has far greater distance to communicate with SQL Azure database