Azure Metrics Advisor, Compute, Management and Governance, Thought leadership, Virtual Machines
Microsoft Azure innovation powers leading price-performance for SQL Server
By Peter Carlin Distinguished Engineer
6 min read
As part of our commitment to ensuring that Microsoft Azure is the best place to run SQL Server and Windows Server, Microsoft is excited to announce that SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines just achieved new, faster performance benchmarks than ever before. According to a report from analyst firm GigaOm, customers can get mission-critical performance for SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines up to 57 percent faster and costing up to 54 percent less than AWS EC2 on a price-performance basis, with Azure Hybrid Benefit and a three-year commitment.1 As Pam Lahoud wrote, this steady increase in performance and value is the result of an ongoing series of investments in the core Azure infrastructure, including the Ebdsv5 virtual machine (VM) series that are optimized for your database workloads and new Premium SSD v2 Disk Storage that brings you faster performance than before, up to 70 percent faster than a year ago. But great hardware isn’t all we have for your SQL Server—Azure also has unmatched price offers, unique Windows Server and SQL Server manageability features, and tools and programs to get your workload to the cloud.
Azure provides the most value for your Windows Server and SQL Server workloads with unique capabilities and offers that allow you to save costs, time, and reduce complexity to do more with less. You can save up to 85 percent over the standard pay-as-you-go rate leveraging Windows Server and SQL Server licenses with Azure Hybrid Benefit when migrating to Azure virtual machines. Not only do we help you save when you move, but we want to help you optimize your workloads in Azure. You can get the most out of Azure on an ongoing basis with recommendations to optimize your workloads and costs with Azure Advisor.
In addition, customers can purchase Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances to lock in the best pricing on a specific virtual machine instance series for a one- or three-year period. If you need flexibility for dynamic workloads, consider the new Azure savings plan for compute, a flexible pricing model that unlocks savings when you commit to spending a fixed hourly amount on select compute services for one or three years. Save regardless of region, instance series, or operating system. Learn more in the Azure saving plan for compute announcement blog.
Azure provides unmatched manageability for Windows Server and SQL Server. By registering your SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines with SQL IaaS Agent Extension, you can access a plethora of benefits: lower total cost of ownership (TCO), robust and simple high availability/disaster recovery (HA/DR), and built-in and free security and manageability. Registering SQL Server virtual machines enables you to switch between pay-as-you-go licenses or using Azure Hybrid Benefit to bring SQL Server licenses from on-premises to Azure directly within the Azure portal. Registration also simplifies the complex administrative task of Always On availability group deployment and enables you to use the disaster recovery license type, which is included with your Azure Hybrid Benefit or pay-as-you-go licensed primary SQL Server instance. Optional automated backup can be configured with backup encryption, configurable retention period, and custom backup schedules. You can also set up automated SQL Server security updates within customer-defined maintenance windows and easy configuration of database encryption through Azure Key Vault integration, both of which allow you to manage your patching to better meet your security and compliance needs.
Save hours of day-to-day IT overhead for Windows Server applications and data by simplifying IT management with Azure Automanage. Further increase efficiency and workload uptime through reboot-less patching of Windows Server VMs with Hotpatch, available only on Azure.
Azure has virtual machine and storage hardware designed for your most critical SQL Server workloads. Azure Ev5 VMs are designed for memory-intensive, business-critical applications, relational database servers, and in-memory data analytics workloads. The Ebdsv5 series of VMs, part of the Ev5 family, are ideal for database and other I/O-intensive workloads because they offer higher remote storage throughput and IOPS per vCPU than any other VM series in Azure. We recently added to this lineup Azure Premium SSD v2, the next generation of Premium SSD Disk Storage that offers the most advanced general-purpose block storage solution with the best price performance. Premium SSD v2 offers sub-millisecond disk latencies for demanding IO-intensive workloads at a low cost.
Azure has great destinations for modernizing SQL Server. Azure SQL Managed Instance is a managed, always up-to-date SQL instance in the cloud, and it makes a great destination for database modernization in Azure. It has great performance as well: as I have mentioned previously, SQL Managed Instance has up to five times faster performance while costing up to 93 percent less than AWS RDS.2 Spend more time innovating and less time patching, updating, and backing up your databases and realize up to 40 percent faster time to value.3 The link feature of Azure SQL Managed Instance connects SQL Servers hosted anywhere (supporting SQL Server 2019 and SQL Server 2022) to Azure SQL Managed Instance, providing hybrid flexibility and database mobility. Using near real-time data replication to the cloud, shift workloads to read-only secondaries on Azure to take advantage of cloud-only features, performance, and scale. You can also choose to migrate one or more applications at the same time, at your own pace, with minimum downtime.
Azure offers free tools before, during, and after migration. Automate the move, gain rightsizing insights to drive efficiencies, and stay optimized after the move: Azure Migrate and Azure Database Migration Service provide integrated discovery, assessment, migration, and modernization capabilities for SQL Server and Windows Server workloads, including extensibility features for ISV tool integration. Reduce your migration costs and accelerate your journey with expert support from Microsoft and partners through the Azure Migration and Modernization Program. The new Microsoft SQL + Apps Migration Factory Program can help you assess and migrate qualifying low-complexity SQL Server and Windows Server applications and databases to Azure at no cost to you.4
Getting started with SQL Server on Azure
- Read the full benchmark report for SQL Transaction Processing and Analytic Performance Price-Performance Testing.
- Watch and learn with Microsoft Mechanics: Best option for Database Migration into Azure.
- Learn more about saving time and enhancing security by registering your SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines from this datasheet and our documentation.
- Accelerate your modernization with our on-demand webinar: How to Migrate SQL Server from VM to SQL Managed Instance.
1 Price-performance claims based on data from a study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by GigaOm in January 2023. The study compared price performance between SQL Server 2019 Enterprise Edition on Windows Server 2022 in Azure E32bds_v5 instance type with Premium SSD v2 disks and SQL Server 2019 Enterprise Edition on Windows Server 2022 in Amazon Web Services Elastic Cloud Compute instance type r5b.8xlarge with General Purpose (gp3) volumes. Benchmark data is taken from a GigaOm Transactional Field Test derived from a recognized industry standard, TPC Benchmark™ E (TPC-E) The Field Test does not implement the full TPC-E and as such is not comparable to any published TPC-E benchmarks. Prices are based on publicly available US pricing in East US for SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines and Oregon for AWS EC2 as of January 2023. The pricing incorporates three-year reservations for Azure and AWS compute pricing, and Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server and Windows Server, and License Mobility for SQL Server in AWS, excluding Software Assurance and support costs. Actual results and prices may vary based on configuration and region.
2 Price-performance claims based on data from a study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Principled Technologies in April 2022. The study compared performance and price performance between a 16 vCore, 64 vCore and 80 vCore Azure SQL Managed Instance using premium-series hardware on the business-critical service tier and the db.m6i.32xlarge, db.r5b.4xlarge and db.r5b.16xlarge offerings for Amazon Web Services Relational Database Service (AWS RDS) on SQL Server. Benchmark data is taken from a Principled Technologies report using recognized standards, HammerDB TPROC-C, HammerDB TPROC-H and Microsoft MSOLTPE, a workload derived from TPC-E. The MSOLTPE is derived from the TPC-E benchmark and as such is not comparable to published TPC-E results, as MSOLTPE results do not comply with the TPC-E Specification. The results are based on a mixture of read-only and update intensive transactions that simulate activities found in complex OLTP and analytics application environments. Price-performance is calculated by Principled Technologies as the cost of running the cloud platform continuously divided by transactions per minute or per second throughput, based upon the standard. Prices are based on publicly available US pricing in South Central US for Azure SQL Managed Instance and US East for AWS RDS as of April 2022 and incorporates Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server, excluding Software Assurance and support costs. Performance and price-performance results are based upon the configurations detailed in the Principled Technologies report. Actual results and prices may vary based on configuration and region.
3 Results are based on customers interviews. “The Economic Value of Migration On-premises SQL Server Instances to Microsoft Azure SQL Solutions,” a commissioned study conducted by The Enterprise Strategy Group on behalf of Microsoft, October 2020.
4 Subject to the limitations described in the full SQL + Apps Migration Factory program specifications here, and provided that the SQL Server workloads are low complexity with no code changes, Microsoft agrees to assess and migrate SQL Server databases and SQL Server-associated applications from your datacenter or AWS EC2 to Azure at no cost to customer. Migrations must be completed by June 30, 2023.