Azure SQL Database – Part 1

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Almost all Software developers who work with Microsoft technologies know SQL Server. Those who know SQL server, for them it will much easier to understand SQL Azure, as they will be able to correlate offerings. Those who don’t know SQL server, no worries!

Let’s see SQL Azure step by step.

If you want to host your database oriented application in cloud, you have two options if you want to use Microsoft SQL database

1. Azure SQL (PaaS) Database
2. SQL Server on Azure VMs (IaaS)

If you want know more about PaaS and SaaS please refer article Cloud Computing for Beginners and Virtual Machine in Azure

What is SQL Azure?

As stated above SQL Azure is Microsoft’s cloud database released in 2010, Platform as a Service (PaaS) built on Windows Azure cloud computing platform. SQL Azure enables organizations build database oriented applications in cloud to store relational data in the cloud.

Microsoft has recently changes the name of offering to Microsoft Azure SQL Database. It enables you to leverage tools like Visual Studio, SQL Server Management Studio, PowerShell, REST APIs and Azure Management Portal

Following image depicts where SQ Azure stand vs SQL Server.

SQL Azure SaaS

SQL Azure Vs SQL Server

As we know now that there are two options to host database in azure cloud, let try to compare both and see which is suitable in which scenario.

Azure SQL DatabaseSQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines
This is Platform as a Service (PaaS) database or also referred as Database as a Service (DBaaS)This is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
This is a SQL database native to the cloud.SQL Server installed and hosted in the cloud on Windows Server Virtual Machines (VMs) running on Azure.
Hosting server is isolated from you, servers are maintained by Microsoft and takes care of patches and updates.You get full control of server on VM, you will be responsible for maintaining server like patches and updates.
It is optimized for software-as-a-service (SaaS) app developmentSQL Server on Azure virtual machines is optimized for migrating existing SQL Server applications
It is perfect choice when your organization does not want to invest on resources to maintain servers.It is a perfect choice when an organization already has IT resources available to maintain the virtual machines.
It provides built-in high availability, disaster recovery, and upgrade for the database.Need to configure and manage high availability, disaster recovery, and patching for SQL Server.
Your on-premises application can access data in Azure SQL Database.With SQL Server on Azure VMs, you can have applications that run partly in the cloud and partly on-premises.
Supports SQL Server transactional replication as a subscriber to replicate data.Fully supports SQL Server transactional replication, AlwaysOn Availability Groups, Integration Services, and Log Shipping to replicate data.
Low Capital expenditure (CAPEX), you don’t need to buy servers and expensive software licenses as your initial investmentHigh Capital expenditure (CAPEX), you will have to buy servers and software licenses as your initial investment
Easily scalable, as it’s a cloud offering it’s very easy to add resources as required and remove them when not required, without any downtime.Difficult to scale, you will have to buy hardware and probably might need downtime too.

following image depicts how Azure SQL and SQL Server differ from each other in terms of platform and cost.

Why should you use SQL Azure?

Reduce Administration Cost

Administering a SQL server is a huge task and cost if you are maintaining it at on-premises, which includes System Administrators, Network Administrators and Database Administrators

For many organizations, the complexity of administration, cost associated to maintenance is not manageable, hence they decide to transition to cloud.

Improve SLA (Service Level Agreement)

For many companies keeping database up and running all the time is a top priority, which at times is pretty difficult to manage with available company’s IT resources.

For SQL Azure – Basic, Standard, Premium, and Premium RS service tiers Microsoft provides an availability SLA of 99.99%. This gives many companies a free hand to focus on their actual business and not worry about database maintenance and disaster recovery options.

Increase developers productivity

SQL Azure is the right solution for cloud applications when developer productivity and fast time-to-market are critical. With programmatic DBA like skills, it is perfect for cloud architects and developers, as it lowers the need for managing the underlying operating system and database.

You can use the REST API and PowerShell  commands to automate and manage administrative operations for SQL Azure databases.


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