If you’ve used Azure in the past, you probably know that there are two main ways to deploy SQL Server on Microsoft’s cloud—Azure SQL Database, the PaaS offering; and Azure VMs running SQL Server. Microsoft is now offering a third deployment option in preview which provides full SQL Server engine capability, including SQL Agent, along with native VNet support.
This new option is a happy medium between the two previous options, where we are freed of the management overhead of Azure VMs and at the same time we can take advantage of all of the features within SQL Server, such as automated backups, database mail, change data capture, and built-in high availability (HA). (Read more about Azure SQL Managed Instances at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/blog/migrate-your-databases-to-a-fully-managed-service-with-azure-sql-database-managed-instance.
It’s very easy to get started if you’re already an Azure user. Just go to the Azure portal, enroll there in the preview, and accept the preview terms. Depending on how high the demand is during the preview, it might take as many as three business days for Microsoft to accept your application. However, once you’re accepted, you’ll be able to complete all of your setup and configuration from the Azure portal.
A good way to spend a few minutes before you provision your first Managed Instance is to view the various quick start tutorials, such as https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=869132&clcid=0x409 to learn how to create an Azure SQL Managed Instance. Check out this video tutorial, as well, titled “Introducing Azure SQL Database Managed Instance” (https://youtu.be/W8feSZXm2Ec). And, don’t forget that there is an Azure Migration Database Migration Service (DMS) to help you “lift and shift” an existing on-premise SQL Server application into Azure. Read more about DMS at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/dms/tutorial-sql-server-to-managed-instance.
You can read all about the features, capabilities, and a variety of example user scenarios when you visit the Managed Instance documentation page at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/sql-database/sql-database-managed-instance.
Pricing by Cores and Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server
Microsoft is also offering a new pricing model for Azure SQL Managed Instances based on the number of virtual cores (vCores), giving you a lot more flexibility to price by storage and compute since the compute consumption is directly comparable to physical cores in an on-premises server.
In addition, Microsoft is offering a new Azure Hybrid Benefit for greater pricing choices. This option allows you to use your current SQL Server licenses with Software Assurance to pay for Managed Instances at up to a 30% discount. This also applies when you migrate on-premise SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) licenses to Azure Data Factory. (Your mileage may vary on the exact discount you can achieve based on a variety of factors.)
Azure Databases for MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB
In late March, Tobias Ternstrom, the principal group program manager for Microsoft Azure Data, announced the general availability of Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL. These services are low-cost, highly available implementations of the popular open source database platforms. The database platforms offer 99.99% availability, elastic scaling for up to 32 vCores, a new Memory Optimized tier, an independent storage option, and multiple backup options.
In addition, the DBMSs are fully compliant with ISO, SOC, and HIPAA regulations and will fully support General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Azure Databases will support databases up to 2TB in size and be available across 22 regions worldwide with plans for availability across more than 40 Azure regions in the coming months. Spend a minute to watch this video demonstration of the Azure databases at https://youtu.be/ElKfEurMi9E. In addition, Microsoft has opened a limited and private preview for Azure Database for MySQL at https://dmspreview.azurewebsites.net.
You can always rely on old stalwart utilities such as mysqldump for MySQL databases and pg_dump to export PostgreSQL databases and then migrate them to Azure. But you can also use Azure Database Migration Service (DMS), which I described for you earlier in this column, for a seamless migration with minimum downtime for your application. DMS enables you to move data from a source database to a target database while remaining fully operational.