SQL Databases are typically used as the back-end for line of business applications such as ERP or Finance systems; or as the back-end for transactional systems; or for BI and reporting purposes.

They are a vital component of the application and infrastructure landscape of most businesses, and as such it is important that they are:

  • Performant
  • Resilient
  • Cost effective
  • Scalable
  • Secure

Running SQL workloads in Azure allows you to achieve all of these objectives, and there are three different deployment options. Which one is right for you will depend on your workload and your objectives, we’ll describe the options below and then discuss the pros and cons of each.

SQL Server on a Virtual Machine in Azure

If you are currently running SQL Server on a Physical or Virtual Server on-premise or at a hosting facility, then moving this to a Virtual Machine in Azure is logically identical – it is exactly the same SQL server with whatever customisations you have and functionality you are using – just running somewhere else. However you gain the benefits of using Azure.

So this is a good option for migrating on-premise SQL Server databases and applications without any database changes.

This is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) deployment where you are managing the Virtual Machine from the Operating System and up.

Azure SQL Database

This is “Database as a Service” and there is no server for you to manage – it is all done for you by the Azure platform. You just get a SQL database and deploy as many or as few databases as you want and just pay for what you use. You can deploy databases individually and choose the level of compute resources you allocate to them – which can be scaled up or out. Or you can deploy multiple databases into an elastic pool and choose the level of compute resources you allocate to the pool and Azure will manage the resources that each database gets.

This Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering is optimised to reduce the cost of provisioning and managing many databases (you don’t have to manage VMs, operating systems, SQL Server, upgrades, high availability or backups). However it doesn’t have full feature parity with your own instance of SQL Server that you would run on-premise or in an Azure VM (above).

So it is well suited to new application developments where the application can be designed to take advantage of all the benefits and not be constrained by the lack of full feature parity.

Depending on what features your on-premise SQL server and databases you may be able to migrate to this service without any changes, or you may need to make some changes. It should also be noted that Microsoft are reducing the feature parity gap between a full SQL Server instance and Azure SQL Database all the time.

We can help you assess this, and then migrate if you choose to.

Azure SQL Database Managed Instances

This is also a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering and gives you the best of both worlds – i.e. near 100% feature parity with a full SQL Server Instance and everything is managed for you as in the Azure SQL Database option above.

So this option is ideal for migrating on-premise SQL Server workloads with minimal database changes.


If you are considering migrating some of your existing SQL workloads to Azure, or deploying some new ones, then please contact us and we’ll be happy to help you evaluate the options free of charge. We have helped lots of our customers to migrate and deploy SQL workloads into Azure in the both the IaaS and PaaS models.


SQL Server 2008 End of Support

If you are running any instances of SQL Server 2008 or 2008 R2, then you may be aware that Microsoft are withdrawing support for that on 9th July 2019 – this means there will be no more security updates for it after that date, this would leave your business exposed from a security and compliance perspective.

So you will need to plan for this now.

If you can, then the simplest thing to do is upgrade your server to a supported version of SQL Server – if your application supports this. If it doesn’t and you need some extra time to get your application to work with a supported version of SQL and need to keep running 2008 in the meantime, then you have two options:

  • Pay for extended security updates for up to 3 years for SQL Server 2008 and R2. However this costs 75% of the full annual license cost each year, and you have to have Software Assurance, or have bought your SQL licenses under an Enterprise Agreement to be eligible for this;
  • Free extended security updates for 3 years for SQL Server 2008 and R2 if you lift and shift your server to a Virtual Machine in Azure. This buys you time to complete the upgrade. If you have Software Assurance you can also bring your SQL Server license(s) and use them in Azure and thus only pay for the compute costs of the VM(s).

If you would like to discuss this, then please contact us and we’ll be happy to help you evaluate your options at no charge.