Azure Update: SQL Database: Easy upgrade to new service tiers, performance improvements, PITR for Basic, and Automated Export for all service tiers

In late April Scott Guthrie blogged about the new SQL Database Basic and Standard service tiers, and new features added to the Premium service tier.  These service tiers, currently in preview, focus on providing database performance predictability.  The service tiers and their performance levels provide increasing performance and richer business continuity features, allowing you to tune the power of the database to the performance needs of your application, budget and business.   To try out these new service tiers you need to sign up on the Azure previews page.

The preview program allows us to introduce new technology and then if necessary quickly make adjustments in response to customer feedback.  We’ve made several important changes recently in response to your feedback:

Easy Upgrade To New Service Tiers

We’ve made it easy to upgrade existing databases to the new service tiers so you can try out the new performance levels.  You can now upgrade any database in-place from Web or Business to Basic, Standard or Premium.  With this change you can freely mix databases of any service tier on any server, and upgrade or downgrade databases between any service tier or performance level.

To upgrade a database use the Database Scale tab in the Azure management portal.  Simply select the desired service tier and performance level and then click Save.  The database will stay online throughout the upgrade operation, with only a brief disconnect/reconnect occurring at the end in some cases. The database connection string is unaltered and your applications don’t need to be changed or reconfigured.
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If upgrading to Standard or Premium or increasing the performance level of a database the upgrade may take some time depending on the size of the database.  You can read more about the upgrade process here.

Increased Performance for Basic and Standard

Database ‘power’ has been significantly increased for Basic and Standard databases.  We measure the resources provided to a database using Database Throughput Units (DTUs), which allows you to easily compare the power of each performance level.  Basic has been increased from 1 DTU to 5 DTUs.

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Standard offers two performance levels: S1 has been increased from 5 DTUs to 15 DTUs, and S2 is up from 25 DTUs to 50 DTUs.

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Premium database performance is unchanged with P1 at 100 DTUs, P2 at 200 DTUs and P3 at 800 DTUs.

Read more about how we measure and think about database performance here, you can also find more details in our previous blog post on performance.

Point-in-Time Restore for Basic

We added support for point-in-time restore to Basic databases and extended the backup retention period for Standard databases.  You can now restore a Basic database to any point in the last 7 days, a Standard database to any point in the last 14 days and Premium databases to any point in the last 35 days.

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Read more about the business continuity features of SQL Database here.

Automated Export for New Service Tiers

We have also extended support for automated export to Basic, Standard and Premium databases.  Automated Export allows you to export a logical backup of a database periodically on a schedule.  With point-in-time restore automated export is no longer needed for short term backup purposes but is still useful if you want to maintain long term backups or for archival purposes.  To setup automated export use the database Configure tab.

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We’re committed to ensuring the new SQL Database service tiers offer competitive price performance, with the best blend of built-in business continuity features.  We’re listening to you, keep the feedback coming!