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Azure SQL Options– What to Use and When

In this blog we take a look at the Azure SQL options available, compare the use cases, features, Azure differentiators and more. As well as help you resolve the Azure SQL Managed Instance vs Azure SQL Database decision for your organisation.

An Introduction to Azure SQL

Azure SQL is an umbrella term to represent the family of SQL offerings available in Microsoft’s Azure cloud. There are three Azure SQL options available:

  • SQL Server on Azure virtual machines
  • Azure SQL Managed Instance
  • Azure SQL Database

Azure SQL Options

Choosing the Right Azure SQL Option for Your Needs

It is important to choose the right database based on your unique requirements. The first choice is between Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Platform as a service (PaaS).

Simply infrastructure as a service refers to pay-as-you-go storage, networking, and virtualization services. Whereas platform as a service provides a complete cloud platform, both hardware and software, for use in developing, running and managing apps.

Azure SQL IaaS (Infrastructure as a service)

For Infrastructure as a service when looking at SQL on Azure we have one option available, SQL Server on Azure VMs.

SQL Server on Azure VMs

SQL Server on Azure VMs provides the promise of the cloud while maintaining OS (operating System) control.

Some key features of this product:

  • SQL Server and OS server access
  • Expansive SQL and OS version
  • Windows, Linux, Containers
  • File steam, DTC, Simple Recovery model
  • SSAS, SSRS and SSIS

Azure differentiators:

  • Free Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2008/R2
  • Automated Backups and Security Updates
  • Point in time restore with Azure Backup
  • Accelerated storage performance with Azure Blob Caching

If you want to migrate to the cloud as fast as possible but still maintain operating system control and complete SQL Server functionality, this is the best route for you. Choosing SQL Server on Azure VMs gives you the combined performance, security and analytics of SQL Server, backed by the flexibility, security and hybrid connectivity of the cloud.SQL Server on Azure VMs

Azure SQL PaaS (Platform as a Service) – Azure SQL Managed Instance Vs Azure SQL Database

Azure SQL PaaS has two options when we look at SQL on Azure, Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure SQL Database

Azure SQL Managed Instance

Azure SQL Managed Instance eases cloud migration when making the leap from on-premises.

Some key features of this product:

  • Single instance or instance pool
  • SQL Server surface area (vast majority)
  • Native virtual network support
  • Fully managed service
  • On-premise identities enables with Azure AD and AD Connect

Azure differentiators:

  • Near zero downtime migration using log shipping
  • Fully managed business continuity with failover groups
  • The best of SQL Server with the benefits of a managed service

If you want to migrate to the cloud, remove management overhead but need instance-scoped features, this is the best route for you. Choosing Azure SQL Managed Instance gives you top cloud security features compatible with SQL Server and a business model designed for on-premises customers.

Azure SQL Managed Instance

Azure SQL Database

Azure SQL Database is built for modern cloud apps.

Some key features of this product:

  • Single database or elastic pool
  • Hyperscale storage (100TB+)
  • Serverless compute
  • Fully managed service
  • Private link support
  • High availability with AZ isolation

Azure differentiators:

  • Industry highest availability SLA of 99.995%
  • Industry only business continuity SLA with 5 second RPO and 30 second RTO
  • Price-performance leader for mission-critical workloads

If you want to build modern apps, potentially multi-tenanted, with the highest uptime and predictable performance, then this is the route for you. Choosing Azure SQL Database gives you a highly scalable cloud database service with built-in high availability and machine learning.

Azure SQL Database

Azure SQL Managed Instance vs Azure SQL Database

Both of these Azure SQL PaaS options have benefits, so let’s look at their key features in comparison.

Azure SQL Managed Instance vs Azure SQL Database

Comparing Azure SQL Options

The reason for these three Azure SQL offerings is there is not a one size fits all solution. Each of the Azure SQL options is designed with different scenarios and challenges in mind. So here you can compare SQL Server on Vms, Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure SQL Database in terms of deployment, manageability, security, availability, performance, programmability, networking, analytics and BI, storage limits and SLA.

Comparing Azure SQL

Comparing Manageability

Comparing Manageability for Azure SQL

Conclusion

We hope this gives you a comprehensive look at the three Azure SQL options available to you and will aid you in making the right choice for your data. Particularly in the Azure SQL Managed Instance vs Azure SQL Database debate. If you would like to download this information as a handy download, you can do so here.

Azure SQL at Ballard Chalmers

Whichever of these options you determine to be the right fit for you, we are primed to help you migrate off SQL Server on-premise or to build you a new cloud-native solution in Azure SQL Database.

You can see an example of our work in this case study, Lighthouse Group Case Study or get in touch to see how we can help.

Post Terms: Azure | Azure SQL | Azure SQL Database | Azure SQL Managed Instance | Database | virtual machines

About the Author

Marketing Manager, Leah Monterroso, has been writing blogs and articles for the last six years. Since working with Ballard Chalmers, she has immersed herself in Microsoft tech news and bringing value to clients and the wider community through content.

You can find Leah online at:

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