Other News in SQL Server 2014 RTM

In my May column, I told you about some of the coolest new features in the recent RTM for SQL Server. The RTM was announced during the “Accelerate your insights” webcast by a boatload of Microsoft’s top executives, including CEO Satya Nadella, COO Kevin Turner, and CVP Quentin Clark. They had lots of useful information to share and demos to show, but a few other items of note about Azure SQL Databases may have dropped under your radar because they came to light a few days after the big dog-and-pony show/webcast.

The first thing to note is that Microsoft has revamped its cloud database product offering with the introduction of a new Premium level offering for the Azure SQL database product line, detailed here. This was followed by the release of two additional new tiers, at Basic and Standard levels, as described here.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has also announced plans to sunset their Web and Business tiers for the product line, described here. If you’re using one of these versions, you’ll want to migrate your licenses over to the new Premium tier if you want to use database copying features in Azure SQL Database. Also, the current implementation of Federations will be retired with Web and Business tiers in favor of customized sharding implementations.

So what do these new service tiers mean? Each level of the tier is intended to provide higher workload capabilities and faster computational throughput.

• Basic: Basic is great for testing, training, and development applications. It has only one service performance level. It is best-suited for a small database size with typically one single active operation going on at a time. Beyond the earlier examples, you might use Basic tier databases for small scale infrequently used applications, such as a conference room reservation system.

• Standard: Standard tier comes in two performance levels, S1 and S2. This is the workhorse option for most cloud applications, supporting multiple concurrent queries, such as in a departmental or web application.

• Premium: Premium comes in three performance service levels, P1 to P3, each one offering greater transactional volume, numbers of concurrent users, and level of business continuity capabilities. Premium is what you’d use to build and deploy real-world, mission critical applications.

You can find out all the details about the various service tiers and their guaranteed performance levels here.

Overall, it looks like the new tiers will also provide an improved billing and monitoring experience. Now, customers will be billed based on a predictable daily rate which they choose themselves. Plus, each purchased tier is displayed separately on the bill to ease analysis of the number of database days incurred in a single month for each tier. In the bill for the new tiers, Database Units and their database size calculations disappear. Check out the SQL Database pricing page, here, for more details about pricing and differences between the new tiers.

I encourage you to investigate two resources published by Microsoft if you use or are considering using Azure SQL Databases. First, there’s lots of great guidance and advice offered by the AzureCAT here. Second, if you’re not using it yet, why not at least tinker around with the free previews? Check ’em out over here.

If you have any questions or are looking for insight into specific areas of the SQL Server platform, let me know! I’m always happy to respond.

Looking for a good analysis of the various PaaS vendors, including Microsoft Azure? I recommend Richard Seroter’s analysis at