Use Microsoft’s Codename Dallas to Power Your Next Big Idea


Do you have an idea for an application that uses census data to suggest ideal locations based on your tastes? How about an application that uses criminal reports to suggest the safest places to live? All of these applications would require access to datasets that are scattered throughout the world in proprietary databases that are not accessible to everyone. The end result is a a service or application that only uses a fraction of the information available…not a very good service after all.

This is where Microsoft’s Codename “Dallas” service steps in.

“Microsoft Codename “Dallas” is a new service allowing developers and information workers to easily discover, purchase, and manage premium data subscriptions in the Windows Azure platform. Dallas is an information marketplace that brings data, imagery, and real-time web services from leading commercial data providers and authoritative public data sources together into a single location, under a unified provisioning and billing framework. Additionally, Dallas APIs allow developers and information workers to consume this premium content with virtually any platform, application or business workflow.”

Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud framework that allows developers to create and manage applications that run on the cloud. The combination of data that resides in the cloud and the ability for developers to create and manage applications that live on cloud makes for scalable, fast, and cheaper deployments of applications like those that I mentioned at the start of this article. The Dallas Marketplace will bring together data providers (government, businesses, and other entities) with the developer/end-user. These entities will now be able to monetize their data and developers and end-users will have access to information that was not readily available in the past.

Windows Azure Platform

You will be able to use Dallas to

  • Find premium content to power apps for consumers and businesses
  • Discover and license valuable data to improve existing applications or reports
  • Bring disparate data sets together in innovative ways to gain new insight into business performance and processes
  • Instantly and visually explore APIs across all content providers for blob, structured, and real-time web services
  • Easily consume third party data inside Microsoft Office and SQL Server for rich reporting and analytics

Developers will be able to build applications that access multi-million dollar databases with subscription based payment systems that make it affordable. However trial subscriptions will allow developers to test content and develop applications without paying data royalties, so there would be no cost to develop and test. Developers would only pay should the application be made available to users who end up consuming the data. One of the benefits of using Dallas for application development revolves around the extensibility and availability of data regardless of platform.

Some examples of existing applications using the Azure platform are listed below:

For more case studies, visit the Windows Azure Case Study page.

Information workers will benefit the most when it comes to the use of Dallas. Users will now be able to work with data sets from disparate systems and will have access to information instantly within familiar applications like Excel and the new PowerPivot extension. Users will also be able to access data from SQL Servers, SQL Azure Databases, and other Microsoft Office assets.

Content partners, those actually providing the information will greatly benefit from this tool, not only will they be able to bring data from disparate systems into one comprehensive system, but they will also be able to monetize this content.

Databases Available Now

Below you will find a listing of the data providers currently hosting their datasets on Dallas. Currently all of the datasets are available on a trial basis.

  • Associate Press – AP Online provides 24/7 multimedia coverage of state, nation and world news, politics, entertainment, sports, business and sports with editorial ranked headline packages, news briefs and top stories packages.
  • City of Miami 311 Service Requests – 311 (Non-Emergency Service Requests) information for the City of Miami 2007, 2008, 2009, – March 8, 2010 reported to the City of Miami 311 Call Center i.e. Bulky Trash Missed, Pothole, Sidewalk Damage, Illegal Dumping.
  • First American ParcelPoint – ParcelPoint enables users to access the highest level of positional accuracy for developing location-based solutions, managing assets, maximizing efficiency, and enhancing business analytics. With ParcelPoint users have access to: – Actual parcel boundary – Parcel centroid that is defined by actual latitude/longitude – APN or Tax ID Number – Property Address or SITUS
  • 2006 and 2007 Crime in the United States.
  • Gregg London Consulting – U.P.C. Data for DVDs/Gregg London provides U.P.C. Data for DVDs (containing U.P.C. or EAN, Category, Studio, Title, Date Released, MSRP, MPAA Rating, Format, and other Item attributes) for Inventory Control and/or those who recently acquired a Video (Rental) Store, and don’t wish to add Product Data “manually”.
  • InfoUSA – A slew of databases covering business analytics to new home owners and new movers.
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory – Explore selected 3D images from the Mars Exploration Rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity”, and see Mars as if you were there.
  • National Geographic – Seamless USGS 1:24,000 (7.5’) and 1:100,000 scale raster topographic maps, scanned in true 24-bit color, edge-matched, and reprojected to Mercator WGS84 to align with Microsoft Bing road and aerial map tiles. Data is currently available for the lower 48 states; Alaska and Hawaii coming soon.
  • NAVTEQ – Dynamic POI Content: Movie and Event Listings – NAVTEQ Movie and Event Listings is a dynamic content feed that includes frequently updated information about a variety of categories such as art/museum exhibits, concerts, cultural events, family-friendly events, festivals, holiday events, movie times, sport events and theater performances for certain cities within the United States and Canada. Plus more.
  • Pitney Bowes Business Insight – GroundViewâ„¢ Demographics U.S.Pitney Bowes Business Insight GroundViewâ„¢ data is the premiere demographic data offering in the U.S. GroundView delivers the most current and accurate household and population counts, demographic characteristics and consumer behaviors available – beginning at the Census Block Group level – for demographic analysis, reporting, mapping, and trending.
  • RiskMetrics Group – RiskMetrics’ Sustainability Solutions (RMG-SS) Database of Reported Carbon Emissions 2006/7 – RiskMetrics Group. The RiskMetrics Carbon Emissions Database covers approximately 2,300 publicly traded companies. Disclosed data for calendar years 2006 and 2007 may be accessed through MSFT Dallas
  • UNData – A collection of about 20 databases that cover information from Commodity statistics to the state of the World’s children.
  • Veriplace – The Veriplace Location Platform provides developers with the location of mobile devices on carrier networks via a web services API–perfect for web, WAP, SMS, or IVR applications. Veriplace is directly connected to Tier 1 carrier networks, leveraging GPS, triangulation, and cell technology to determine the location of feature phones and “smartphones”, indoors or out.
  • Weather Central – Weather Central provides geographic point and tiled weather data globally. Our forecast, current, and historic datasets allows you to build weather into your applications and asset management systems helping you make better business decisions based on the weather.
  • – Home Valuation, Property Details, Neighborhood Data, and Mortgage Market Data from

Dallas Information from Microsoft website.