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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 SQL Database vs SQL Server on Azure VM

Compiled from numerous resources:

Topic Azure
SQL Database (PaaS)
SQL Server on Azure VM (IaaS)
Features Less features than box, optimized to reduce costs

Features that are available only in Azure SQL Database include:
• Built-in backup
• Auditing and threat detection
• Index advisor
• Query performance insight
• Elastic database pools
• Manage many features through Azure portal dashboard
Full box product features, optimized for the best compatibility with existing applications and for hybrid applications
Performances Max 4000 DTUs in Premium Tier (P15) Depends on VM SKU/Storage
DB Size Max 4TB in Premium Tier (P11) 64TB on G-SERIES
Workload Sizing by average usage Sizing based on peaks
High-Availability Built-in by platform. 99.99% high-availability SLA Manual configuration by AlwaysOn AG. 99.95% HA SLA that covers just the Virtual Machines in an availability set
Fault-Handling Necessary fault-handling &
Recommended fault-handling &
Locality No co-location with application Co-located by VMs and VNETs
Segregation Internet exposed endpoint Internal private endpoint
Versioning No control on upgrades but you can change compatibility level of db.  Compatibility levels upported in Azure SQLDB V12 are:
100 (SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2)

110 (SQL Server 2012)

120 (SQL Server 2014)

130 (SQL Server 2016)
Full control over DB upgrade
TCO No CapEx & reduced administrative costs (OpEx)

Very low, almost self-managed.
Total cost of application = Highly minimized administration costs + software development costs + SQL Database service costs
No upfront hardware costs (CapEx)

Total cost of application = Highly minimized software development cost + administration costs + SQL Server and Windows Server licensing costs + Azure Storage costs

Administration No full-time DBA required Full staffed DBA required
Management Easy to manage many DBs Complex to manage many DBs/VMs
Scale-Out Tools & Frameworks available No easy scale-out
Configuration No setup customization Full access to OS and SQL Server instance level properties
Authentication SQL standard authentication, Azure Active Directory authentication SQL standard and integrated
Security No Fixed IP, fixed 1433 port Fixed IP possible, port can be changed
Backup Backup files not accessible, 35 days Point-in-Time-Restore Full control of backup files, unlimited PITR
Hybrid No AlwaysOn AG support Can join on-premises AlwaysOn AG topology
Cross-DB Access NO: Distributed Transaction Coordinator (DTC), Linked Servers, USE statement , 4-parts names YES: DTC, Linked Srv, USE, 4-parts names
Migrate Existing Apps Moderate Fast
Build New Apps Fast Moderate
Licensing Not required Regardless of VM size or SQL Server edition, pay per-minute licensing cost of SQL Server + Windows Server + Azure Storage cost for the VM disks unless Bring-Your-Own-License option is choosen
Best for New cloud designed applications for which developer productivity and rapid time to market is important

Applications using scale-out patterns

Building SaaS applications

Using newest cloud born SQL Database features

Built-in high availability, disaster recovery and upgrade mechanisms
Running existing applications with minimal changes

Disaster recovery for on-premises solutions (AlwaysOn replica)

Databases larger than 4TB

Features not supported in SQL Database

Customized IT environment with full administrative rights

Application is very chatty and requires close proximity to databases

Application deeply tied to a specific SQL Server version

Also see:
Comparison of App Service, Cloud Services, Virtual Machines, and Service Fabric

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