Even with the prominence of cloud computing, it’s not hard to remember a time when enterprise IT applications and processes only ran on inflexible on-premises systems.
Whether it’s a outdated version of SQL Server, plenty of businesses are still operating with their legacy investments. Several more have since modernised their infrastructure and enjoy the cloud's benefits.
But what about companies without IT expertise or budgets who aren’t yet ready to make such a big jump forward? Is there a transition point for them to keep competitive? On Microsoft Azure, there is - and it's currently available.
Azure SQL Database Managed Instance overview
Azure SQL Database Managed Instance is a critical capability of Azure SQL Database. Managed Instances offers businesses who wish to migrate to the cloud an attractive option for broader Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) applications.
This service gives you a way to migrate database environments (on-premises servers, virtual machines) to the cloud without having to re-engineer legacy applications and lowers risk. It achieves this by providing near-complete SQL Server engine compatibility with the latest SQL Server on-premises (Enterprise Edition) Database Engine.
Currently, Managed Instances boasts most of SQL Server legacy features, and grants network administrators full control over access and configuration using firewalls and security groups. Every instance you set up with the service is fully isolated from the other customer instances and placed in your dedicated subset, and only apps in your private network can access your Managed Instances.
Essentially, you can lift and shift your on-premises SQL databases into Azure no matter the SQL license, without the significant operational overheads - while reaping the full benefits of platform as a service.
How does Azure Managed Instance benefit my business?
With Managed Instances, you can leverage several operational benefits of scalable infrastructure and enterprise-grade security without the higher cost of entry of IaaS or PaaS.
The Azure platform operates the SQL Server for you, significantly reducing your management overhead and giving you a way to experiment with what the cloud can offer your business at your own pace.
If you are unfamiliar with some of the major benefits of hosting SQL databases in the cloud, you can expect:
- 99.99% uptime Service Level Agreement (SLA)
- Azure AD authentication and single sign-on support (SSO)
- Automated back-ups and backup retention
- Automated patching and and version updates
- Built-in high availability (HA)
- Point-in-time database restore capability
- Threat detection (alerts)
For companies with disparate data sources and who want to consolidate their big data for more efficient transformation and analysis with BI tools, you can further lower your total cost of ownership (TCO) by migrating your SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) packages into a managed SSIS in Azure Data Factory (ADF) environment, hosted by Managed Instance.
Managed Instance also can help companies who still run databases or older versions of SQL, as a migration option for these databases to re-host on Managed Instances.
Cost-effective licensing with Managed Instance
The licensing model for Azure SQL Database Managed Instance is a monthly fixed cost, which is further reduced if you have Microsoft Software Assurance as part of the Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server.
Without the expense associated with application re-engineering, using Azure Managed Instance to get your databases into the cloud is great if you can’t quite invest the time and money into right-sizing your existing SQL real estate for a full dive into an Azure IaaS or PaaS environment just yet.
Conclusion - Why Azure SQL Managed Instances
Azure SQL Managed Instance best suit businesses running on-premises databases on SQL Server, or running a hybrid IaaS environment, who want to move legacy apps and databases with zero need to re-engineer them, while leveraging the benefits of a fully managed service, all at a lower risk.
Ultimately, it's a helpful pathway for an eventual transition into a fully hosted cloud service, as its features and capabilities are limited to the database engine.
Need help migrating your on-prem SQL Servers to Azure Cloud or want to know the latest in Microsoft Azure databases, view our Azure Synapse expertise page.