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Three reasons Azure SQL Database is best for SQL Server migrations

Posted on September 24, 2018

Partner GPM, Azure SQL Database

The amount of data generated today can be overwhelming. In the face of mounting pressure to manage costs, optimize performance, and use data for competitive advantage, IT organizations are increasingly looking to the cloud to help relieve the pressure. At this year’s Ignite, we are announcing new innovations that redefine the data platform and create a friction-free experience between on-premises and the cloud. 

Today, we are going to focus on Azure SQL Database, the Azure service where Microsoft manages SQL Server databases for you! You will never need to patch and upgrade SQL Server again. In addition to your favorite SQL Server features, you will benefit from a fully managed database service with a built-in availability SLA, dynamic scaling, and automatic performance and cost optimization based upon learning your workload patterns. I’d like to call out three core reasons why SQL Database is the best destination for your SQL Server workloads, and how it can enable you to focus more on your business.

#1: Focus on your business with an intelligent database as a service

In today’s cloud-centric world, to stay focused on your core competencies you may increasingly rely on your cloud provider to offer an affordable, worry-free computing infrastructure that scales with your needs. Using managed services helps the bottom line, improves time to market, and ultimately drives peak business performance.

SQL Database is a rapidly growing, fully managed, relational database-as-a-service (DBaaS), managing millions of production databases across 38 data centers around the world. You can rely on SQL Database to support a broad range of applications and workloads, from managing straightforward transactional data to driving the most data-intensive, mission-critical applications requiring advanced data processing at global scale.

We’re pleased to announce the upcoming general availability of SQL Database Managed Instance’s general purpose service tier on October 1, 2018. The general purpose service tier is designed for the majority of business applications with typical performance requirements. Managed Instance combines your favorite SQL Server capabilities with a fully-managed service, providing benefits such as a built-in availability SLA powered by SQL Server Always On technology, Intelligent Performance, and cost optimization powered by AI that learns your workload patterns and optimizes automatically. Built-in In-Memory technologies allow you to achieve phenomenal performance, up to 1.4 million HTAP transactions per second, needed for modern workloads like IoT and up to 57x performance improvements for advanced analytics workloads.

We were able to deploy our TimeXtender solution into production on Azure SQL Database Managed Instance in a matter of weeks. We immediately realized a 49 percent cost savings and the promise of applying artificial intelligence through machine learning to our data is an exciting opportunity for us,” said John Steele, GM of Business Technology & Systems at Komatsu Australia.

Managed Instance supports popular SQL Server features like native backup restore, CLR, transaction replication publisher, Linked Server, DBMail, Query Notification, Always Encrypted, and Transparent Data Encryption with bring your own key (BYOK) support, to name a few.  Create a Managed Instance today and easily migrate your data using the Azure Database Migration Service.

#2: Hyperscale your database quickly

We are also pleased to announce the preview of the new SQL Database Hyperscale service tier on October 1, 2018. For customers who want to migrate large on-premises databases or build new apps for future growth in Azure SQL Database, Hyperscale’s scale-out architecture provides ground-breaking support for your very large databases (VLDB) on commodity hardware. With Hyperscale, you can bring your 100TB databases to SQL Database for instance query scaling out and fast point-in-time recovery. We fundamentally rearchitected the SQL Server storage engine to scale out engine-level compute and storage to support VLDB without scale-up hardware.

Hyperscale will initially be available for preview in single databases, expanding to other resource types in the future. Learn more about the Hyperscale service tier.

#3: Put built-in intelligence to work for you

Starting in early 2016, we began delivering intelligent capabilities through a range of built-in machine learning and adaptive technologies that monitor and manage performance and security for you. Using telemetry from millions of databases running in Azure over the years, Microsoft is capable of training truly intelligent and autonomous databases that learn and adapt to your workload.

Azure SQL Database’s Intelligent Performance gives you deeper insights into database performance and eliminates the hassle of making ongoing improvements, helping you focus less on “chores” and more on driving your business. Features like query performance insights and automatic tuning continuously monitor database usage to detect disruptive events and then take steps to improve performance. 

Optimizing query performance is easy with the latest additions to our intelligent query processing feature family. We are announcing three new preview offerings - row mode memory grant feedback, approximate query processing, and table variable deferred compilation. With minimal effort, these features can collectively optimize your memory usage and improve overall query performance. 

Azure SQL Database’s Intelligent Protection helps you efficiently and productively meet your data’s security and compliance requirements by proactively monitoring for potential threats and vulnerabilities. Through features like Information Protection, Vulnerability Assessment, and Threat Detection, SQL Database proactively discovers and protects sensitive data, uncovers potential vulnerabilities, and detects anomalous activities that could indicate a threat to your data.

Bonus: #4 Reduce costs and boost productivity

I’d like to give you one more reason, making SQL Database the best choice economically. Migrating your SQL Server workloads to SQL Database Managed Instance can yield significant savings over time. In a recent Total Economic ImpactTM commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, companies can expect a 212 percent ROI and up to $800K/per year savings in capital expenses by avoiding the hardware, storage, and network costs associated with on-premises deployments.  The fully-managed service with built-in intelligence also boosted employee productivity, with in-house DBAs and IT professionals seeing gains of up to 40 percent and 20 percent, respectively. The study will be available soon. Download the Executive Summary today.

We’re committed to making Azure the most cost-effective cloud for your workloads. With the Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server, you can use your SQL Server Standard or Enterprise Edition licenses and active Software Assurance to save up to 55 percent1 versus license-included pricing. You can also combine the Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server with the new reserved capacity offer and save up to 80 percent2 off license-included pricing when you pre-pay for your SQL Database compute for a one or three-year term. If you’re facing end of support for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 on July 9, 2019, you can cost-effectively migrate your workloads to Azure SQL Database using these offers and eliminate end of support transition costs. Learn more about these offers on the SQL Database pricing page.

In closing, running your data estate on Azure SQL Database is like putting it on auto-pilot. By combining the best of SQL Server and built-in intelligent capabilities with the benefits of a fully-managed service, you can focus more on developing great apps and driving growth, efficiently and cost-effectively. We’re excited about these announcements and look forward to hearing from you and helping you accelerate your business goals.


1 Savings based on eight vCore Managed Instance Business Critical in East US Region, running 730 hours per month. Savings are calculated from full price (license included) against base rate (applying Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server), which excludes Software Assurance cost for SQL Server Enterprise edition, which may vary based on EA agreement. Actual savings may vary based on region, instance size and performance tier. Prices as of December 2017, subject to change.

2 Savings based on eight vCore SQL Database managed instance business critical in West2 US region, running 730 hours per month. Savings are calculated from on demand full price (license included) against base rate with Azure Hybrid Benefit plus 3-year reserved capacity. Savings excludes Software Assurance cost for SQL Server Enterprise edition, which may vary based on EA agreement. Actual savings may vary based on region, instance size, and performance tier. Prices as of May 2018, subject to change.