SQL Server on virtual machines

What can you do with SQL Server on Azure?

Here are some ways companies are using Azure to complement their on-premises SQL Server investments – and some places to learn more.

Customers using SQL Server in virtual machines

Host enterprise SQL Server apps in the cloud

Reduce your capital investments and optimise operational expenses by running your on-premises Microsoft SQL Server applications in Azure. Azure gives you a wide range of SQL Server editions, including SQL Enterprise. Customers with Software assurance can choose to pay the SQL Server licensing based on usage or easily leverage their existing SQL Server licences using our BYOL (Bring-Your-Own-License) images. These are only available in Azure. Choose a virtual machine size that’s right for you, including the GS-Series, the largest virtual machine in the cloud with up to 32 cores and 448 GB memory. Premium Storage provides 5000 IOPs or 200 MB/s per disk at 1-digit latency, up to 80,000 IOPs or 2 GB/s. SQL Server Always On provides +99.99% high availability, and customers with Software Assurance receive one free passive secondary. SQL Server In-memory processing and analytics speed heavy workloads up to 30 times, achieving great performance for 15 TB+ databases. Azure is a proven secure environment, with encrypted storage and private virtual networks, and complies with more than 30 certifications. Also, you can layer SQL Server security, such as database encryption or encrypted connections, on top of the security provided by Azure. Azure is the only cloud that allows you to easily configure SQL Server, optimising the virtual machine storage for a target workload (e.g. transaction processing or data warehousing) and easily automating common operations such as database backups and OS patching. 

See all virtual machine sizes and pricing

Easily create a fully configured SQL Server virtual machine

How to migrate your on-premises SQL Server database to Azure

“Using Microsoft Azure will help us bring new solutions to market faster, scale up and out easily, and meet the unique needs of our customers around the world.”

Evren Eryurek
Software Chief Technology Officer
GE Healthcare

“By upgrading to SQL VM with Azure Premium Storage, we have halved processing time and gained the assurance that this critical application will run smoothly.”

Anthony Lewkowicz
Technical Architect
Chronodrive

Develop and test SQL Server apps easily and cost-effectively

Azure gives you a fast, cost-effective way to develop and test SQL Server applications. Spin up a new development environment in seconds, paying only for what you use. Our SQL Server Developer images, including SQL Server 2016, provide all the SQL Server features with a free licence for development and testing. These are only available in Azure. SQL Server Express images allow you host lightweight workloads (<1 GB mem, <10 GB storage) also with a free licence, so you only pay pence per hour for the virtual machine. These are only available in Azure. Because Azure supports tools such as Visual Studio and technologies including Active Directory and Team Foundation Server, you can use a hybrid development process, creating part of your application on premises and part of it in an Azure virtual machine.

How to get started with SQL Server in Azure

Learn about SQL Server application patterns and development strategies

Create a SQL Server 2016 SP1 VM in Azure

Protect your SQL Server databases in the cloud

Azure Storage offers flexible, reliable and limitless off-site backup storage for your SQL Server applications, without the hassles of traditional tape archives. Enable full backups with point-in-time restore directly through SQL Server Management Studio. Back up on-premises SQL Server databases and instances running in an Azure virtual machine – and restore backups to either your data centre or an Azure virtual machine. SQL Server 2014 supports manual and policy-based backups and can encrypt backups with you holding the encryption keys for added security. Use the free Azure backup tool for older versions of SQL Server. SQL Server 2016 File-Snapshot Backups integrate directly with Azure Storage to provide nearly instantaneous backups and quicker restores. This is only available in Azure.

Learn how to back up your SQL Server database to Azure

“We know that if we lost our database, we would have it back up and running in a few minutes at most with SQL Server Backup to Azure. That is very compelling for our business.”

Fredrik Elmqvist
IT Systems Architect
Security and Defence Solutions, Saab

Improve business continuity and global BI reporting

In the event of a disaster, you can improve business continuity by placing your SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Group replicas in virtual machines. SQL Server 2014 gives you up to eight readable replicas, which you can deploy to a fast-growing list of Azure regions around the world. You can also use AlwaysOn to set up fast failover for database applications running in Azure. Strategic placement of your SQL Server replicas not only improves business continuity and disaster recovery, but lets you offload business intelligence reporting to the closest Azure region. This gives you peace of mind in case of on-premises failure and can also reduce reporting latency for your global offices.

Learn more about AlwaysOn Availability Groups

How to add an AlwaysOn replica in a virtual machine

Simplify and scale your corporate demos and training

Have a corporate demo or training application that requires SQL Server? It might be faster and more convenient to run it in a virtual machine. You can spin up a virtual machine with global reach in seconds, and choose from many versions and editions of SQL Server to match your demo and training requirements. These include the latest SQL Server 2016 images, including the free-licensed SQL Server Developer and SQL Server Express images.

How to spin up a virtual machine with SQL Server

Choose the edition of SQL Server that’s right for you

Provision a virtual machine image with the edition of SQL Server that works best for your scenario.

Edition Description
SQL Server 2016 Developer Create Free edition for dev/test (more details)
SQL Server 2016 Express Create Free edition for micro workloads (more details)
SQL Server 2016 Web Create For small to medium web server workloads
SQL Server 2016 Standard Create For medium workloads (more details)
SQL Server 2016 Enterprise Create For large enterprise workloads (more details)

Creating an SQL Server virtual machine with your free trial