What Makes SQL Azure Compelling?

What makes the Cloud-based version of SQL Server, SQL Azure, compelling? Part 1 …

I am going to have to do this in parts because there are different IT & business roles that will see different value in SQL Azure based on the aspects of their jobs that are affected by a move from on-premises to Cloud. The change can be minimal in some cases or dramatic in others.

Let’s start with the primary role interacting with SQL Server databases: DBAs.

Compelling features:

  1. Quick & easy to provision a new database. By going to your Windows Azure portal, you can request a new database of varying max size, up to 50 GB and have a new database ready in minutes.
  2. Costs. You pay monthly like your database was a utility. If you averaged 10 Gb size for your database in SQL Azure, you pay that rate.
  3. Elasticity. Now, if you start growing to 20 GB and 30 GB, your database is just fine in SQL Azure. You now step-up to the price points for those larger database sizes.
  4. Easy to migrate. There are tools on Codeplex and a new version coming of Data Sync to let you integrate and sync data similar to replication seamlessly between Cloud and on-prem SQL Server.

Things to be aware of – differences from SQL Server:

  1. You do not have control of the system & instance levels of SQL Server in SQL Azure. This is not the same as standing up a box or a VM with SQL Server. You get a database that is part of PaaS (Platform as a Service) in a Microsoft data center.
  2. Backup & recovery is not the same. There is a database copy feature that you can schedule to create “snapshots” of the database that are copies. Backups are built-in through the fact that 3 replicas of your database are constantly maintained by the Azure infrastructure.
  3. High availability is through database replicas and the Azure infrastructure. You get the same replicas and the same infrastructure for each database. You do not set-up mirroring, log shipping, clustering, etc.

That is not everything there is to know, just a few pointers to get you started. I’ll move on to developers next in part 2 … Many thanks, Mark


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