Comparison of SQL Server Deployment Options on the Azure Cloud Platform

Hi friends, in this article, we will be performing a comparison of the SQL Server deployment options on the Azure cloud platform.

 

Overview of SQL Server Deployment Option on Azure

When it comes to options for deploying SQL Server databases on the Azure cloud platform, there are many options that can cover all needs. There are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings, as well as, different flavours of Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings.

Each option has its own characteristics and should always be evaluated against the database infrastructure needs, when it comes to migrating a database on the Azure cloud platform.

 

Azure SQL Virtual Machines (IaaS)

Azure SQL Virtual Machines, is the Infrastructure as a Service deployment option for SQL Server on Azure.

Based on this option, a full version of SQL Server is deployed on an Azure Virtual machine, thus making the specific instance of SQL Server 100% compatible with on-premises SQL Server instances.

Below, you can find the main characteristics of this deployment option for SQL Server on Azure:

  • Compatibility with on-premises SQL Server instances:
    • 100%
  • Maintenance:
    • Automated patching within a given patching window with Windows and SQL Server patches marked as “Important” or “Critical”. The rest of the patches need to be applied manually
    • Automated SQL Server backups can set set using the SQL Server IaaS Agent extension.
  • Availability:
  • Security:
    • Encrypted connections can be enabled
    • Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) can be enabled
  • Supports SQL Server Agent?
    • Yes
  • Other Remarks:
  • Learn more about Azure SQL Virtual Machines:

 

Azure SQL Database (PaaS)

Azure SQL Database, is one of the two available Platform as a Service deployment options for SQL Server on the Azure cloud platform.

Based on this option, the SQL database service is provided as a platform, where the main philosophy is that you create, use and manage your database using this service.

Below, you can find the main characteristics of this deployment option for SQL Server on Azure:

  • Compatibility with on-premises SQL Server instances:
    • It depends. Assessment is required on a per-case manner, since there are some SQL Server on-premises features that are not supported (i.e. SQL Server Agent, etc.).
  • Maintenance:
    • Automated patching and version updates
    • Automated backups
    • High availability
  • Availability:
    • 99.99%
  • Security:
    • SSL/TLS encryption is enforced by default for all connections
    • All newly created databases are encrypted by default
  • Supports SQL Server Agent?
    • No
  • Other Remarks:
  • Learn more about Azure SQL Database

 

Azure SQL Managed Instance (PaaS)

Azure SQL Managed instance is another Platform as a Service deployment option for SQL Server on the Azure cloud platform. Its main difference from Azure SQL Database, is that it combines the benefits of the Azure cloud platform (i.e. fully managed data platform, etc.), with the broadest support for SQL Server Database Engine compatibility.

Below, you can find the main characteristics of this deployment option for SQL Server on Azure:

  • Compatibility with on-premises SQL Server instances:
    • Near 100%
  • Maintenance:
    • Automated patching and version updates
    • Automated backups
    • High availability
  • Availability:
    • 99.99%
  • Security:
    • SSL/TLS encryption is enforced by default for all connections
    • All newly created databases are encrypted by default
  • Supports SQL Server Agent?
    • No
  • Other Remarks:
  • Learn more about Azure SQL Managed Instance

 

Conclusion

In this article, we have discussed about the available SQL Server deployment options on the Azure cloud platform.

To this end, we have discussed about Azure SQL Virtual Machines, which is the Infrastructure as a Service deployment option for SQL Server on Azure, as well as, about the two Platform as a Service deployment options, that is Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed instance.

Among other, we have compared their main characteristics, in terms of high availability, compatibility with on-premises SQL Server deployments, maintenance, security and other critical features.

In addition to all the above, another major factor when deciding which deployment option to use on Azure when it comes to SQL Server databases is cost. Therefore, the decision regarding which deployment option to use for migrating your SQL Server database to the Azure cloud platform, should always be based on a combination of factors including, but not limiting to the below:

  • Features
  • Compatibility with on-premises SQL Server instance
  • Cost
  • Ability to modernize your database so that it can support any deployment option on the Azure cloud platform

The last factor in the above list, is very important as well and should always be taken into consideration. Because, even in the case where cost might not be an issue and the easiest approach would be to directly choose a deployment option that is 100% or near 100% compatible with your on-premises SQL Server database, you should always consider keeping your SQL Server databases up to date, so that they do not use any deprecated features, and keeping them regularly patched and upgraded to the latest SQL Server version. This, will definitely increase their changes for being suitable candidates for any SQL Server deployment option on the Azure cloud platform, thus helping the overall migration decision and planning.

 

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