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Tech Tips, Tricks & Trivia

by 'Anil' Radhakrishna
An architect's notes, experiments, discoveries and annotated bookmarks.

Search from over a hundred HOW TO articles, Tips and Tricks

Azure Table Storage vs Azure SQL Database

The Azure documentation on NoSQL-based Table is pretty comprehensive (Azure Storage Table Design Guide runs into 50+ pages if you print it) & well written. The consolidated comparison chart on Azure Table Storage vs Azure SQL Database copied from MSDN is a great reference to review occasionally. Nothing summarizes info as well as a table (heh!).

Comparison Criteria Azure Table Storage Azure SQL Database
Data relationships No
Azure Table Storage does not provide a way to represent relationships between data. You can obtain simple relationships by using schema-less properties of tables and structuring the data in the required format.
Similar to SQL Server, Azure SQL Database allows you to define relationships between data stored in different tables by using foreign keys.
Server-side processing No
Supports basic operations such as insert, update, delete, and select, but it does not support joins, foreign keys, stored procedures, triggers, or any processing on the storage engine side.
Provides standard SQL Server features such as stored procedures, views, multiple indices, joins, and aggregation.
Transaction support Limited
Supports transactions for entities in the same table and the same partition. Up to 100 operations are supported in a transaction. Supports optimistic concurrency. For more information, see Entity Group Transactions.
Supports typical ACID transactions within the same database. Transactions are not supported across databases. Azure SQL Database also supports optimistic concurrency.
Geo-replication Yes
By default, a table is replicated to other regions. This replication provides a high degree of disaster recovery capabilities.
See Azure SQL Database Business Continuity for the latest options.
Table schema Relaxed
Each entity (row) can have different properties. For example, in the same table you can store order information in one row and customer information in another row.
Fixed schema for the entire table once defined but can be altered at any time. All rows must adhere to the schema rules. Consider using the XML type or sparse columns for additional flexibility.
Similarity to existing data stores used on-premises No
Cloud-based storage with no on-premises alternatives at present.
Similar to SQL Server with some limitations. For more information, see General Guidelines and Limitations.
Scale-out Automatic
Partitioned based on the PartitionKey property. A table might be stored in different partitions on different storage devices. This structure allows clients to access data in parallel.
Sharded across a managed group of database instances by using the Elastic Scale feature. See Elastic Scale Documentation Map.
Data types Simple Simple, Complex, and User Defined
Azure SQL Database supports a rich set of data types, including custom user-defined types.
Accessible from on-premises applications or applications hosted in non-Azure platforms Yes Yes
Consistency model Strong Strong
Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Data Services client support Yes Yes
REST client support Yes
Supports REST-based access out of the box.
Supports REST-based access by adding an OData layer on top of a SQL database.
Firewall protection (restricted IP range access) No Yes
Uses the Azure firewall that is configurable from the portal, or using command-line tools.
Transaction throttling behavior Yes
For more information, see this blog post.
For more information, see this article.
Fault tolerance Yes
To provide a high degree of fault tolerance, the stored data is replicated three times within the region, and replicated an additional 3 times in another region more than 400 miles (644 kilometers) apart.
Three copies of a Azure SQL Database instance are maintained within the chosen data center.
Logging and metrics Yes
For more information, see this blog post.
Transaction logs No Yes
Maximum row size 1 MB
With no more than 255 properties, including three required properties: PartitionKey, RowKey, Timestamp.
2 GB
Can contain up to 1024 columns (or 30,000 if sparse columns are used).
Maximum data size 500 TB per table
There is no maximum number of blob containers, blobs, file shares, tables, queues, entities, or messages per storage account. The only limit is the 500 TB per storage account. See Azure Storage Scalability and Performance Targets for more information.
Calculated as Database Throughput Units (DTUs) that vary according to tiers. For the latest, see Azure SQL Database General Guidelines and Limitations.
Target throughput for single blob
Up to 60 MB per second, or up to 500 requests per second.
Other metrics:
See Azure Storage Scalability and Performance Targets for ingress and egress limits.
Calculated as Database Throughput Units (DTUs) that vary according to tiers. For more information about DTUs, see Azure SQL Database General Guidelines and Limitations and Azure SQL Database Service Tiers and Performance Levels.
Maximum number of rows retrieved per query 1,000
No more than 1,000 rows (entities) are returned in response to a single request. If a query has more results than this amount, a continuation token is returned to allow the query to continue with additional requests.
If not tuned correctly, connection and query timeouts can limit the number of rows fetched.
Management protocol and tools REST over HTTP/HTTPS
You can use the Azure Storage Explorer or another third-party tool, such as Cloud Storage Studio.
You can use the Azure Management Portal or SQL Server Management Studio to manage a Azure SQL Database instance.
Data access OData Protocol Interface
You can access data by using the HTTP(S) REST API or the .NET Client Library for WCF Data Services that is included in the Azure SDK.
You can use applications written using existing technologies such as ADO.NET and ODBC that communicate with SQL Server to access Azure SQL Database instances with minimal code changes.
Java API support Yes Yes
Node.js API support Yes Yes
PHP API support Yes Yes
LINQ support Yes Yes
Python support Yes No
Offline developer experience Yes
Provided by the local storage emulator included in the Azure SDK.
SQL Express or other editions of SQL Server are different products and do not offer full simulation of a Microsoft Azure SQL Database environment.
Authentication Symmetric Key
Shared Access Signatures
512-bit HMAC key is used to authenticate users.
SQL Authentication
Standard SQL Authentication is used to authenticate users.
Azure Active Directory Authentication: Supports integrated, username/password, and token-based authentication using Azure Active Directory identities.
Role-based access No Yes
Supports standard SQL database and application roles.
Azure Active Directory (formerly ACS) support No No
Identity provider federation No No
Storage cost $0.125
per gigabyte stored per month based on the daily average.
See Azure Pricing Overview for latest pricing details.
See Azure Pricing Overview for latest pricing details.
Transaction cost $0.01
per 100,000 storage transactions.
Azure SQL Database does not charge for transactions.
Billable operations All
In addition to storage costs, transaction cost is computed based on the volume of transactions against tables.
Cost does not depend on the volume of transactions, only on the database size.
Egress costs $0.12 - $0.19
per gigabyte, based on a graduated, region-specific scale
$0.12 - $0.19
per gigabyte, based on a graduated, region-specific scale

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