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Posted May 2, 2014

Microsoft Previews SQL Database on Azure Upgrades

By Pedro Hernandez

Microsoft has rolled out a preview of the company's new SQL Database for Azure service tiers, enabling businesses to tailor their subscriptions based on the performance requirements of their cloud-based SQL implementations.

Scott Guthrie, who took over as Microsoft's cloud chief after Satya Nadella ascended to the CEO spot, announced two new tiers, Basic and Standard, that complement the previously announced high-end Premium offering. "Collectively these tiers provide a flexible set of offerings that enable you to cost effectively deploy and host SQL Databases on Azure," he stated in a blog post.

Basic is meant for light transactional workloads with predictable rate of hourly transactions, explained Guthrie. The Standard option is positioned as the "go-to option for cloud-designed business applications." Premium, as its name implies, is reserved for mission-critical databases.

Prices start at $0.16 per day or $4.96 per month for a 2GB database on the Basic tier (the maximum at this level). A 50 percent discount is in effect for the duration of the preview period.

Customers won't have to purchase an SQL Server license to use these tiers, informed Guthrie. Microsoft is also providing "per-day granularity" so that customers won't be charged monthly for databases that run for only a few days.

SQL on Azure's service-level agreements (SLA) have been upgraded as well, added Guthrie. "We are extending the availability SLA of all of the new SQL Database tiers to be 99.95%," he stated. Covering Basic, Standard and Premium, the SLA enables businesses "to deploy and run SQL Databases on Azure with even more confidence."

Microsoft has also upped the maximum supported size of databases. Basic, Standard and Premium can now accommodate 2GB, 250GB and 500GB of data, respectively. New monitoring options, available through an API or the Azure Management Portal, provide statistics on CPU usage, reads/writes and memory, enabling administrators to dynamically adjust service tiers as needs dictate, courtesy of the aforementioned daily pricing approach.

Giving administrators some peace of mind, Guthrie said that the service "takes database backups daily and log backups every 5 minutes." Basic tier customers can restore from the most recent daily backup. Standard and Premium subscribers can restore to any point in the last seven days and 35 days, respectively.

"The daily backups are also stored in geo-replicated Azure Storage (which will store a copy of them at least 500 miles away from your primary region)," he said. Active Geo-Replication support on the Premium plan allows customers "to create up to 4 readable, secondary, databases in any Azure region," enabling failover operations and extending business continuity protections in the event of a disaster or service disruption.

"This update of SQL Database support on Azure provides some great new features that enable you to build even better cloud solutions," boasted Guthrie. The new SQL for Azure updates are currently available as a public preview.


Originally published on eWeek.

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