If your business currently relies on outdated SQL Server technologies, or any other version approaching end of life, you’ll be happy to know there’s no better time to upgrade your data platform then now.
If your organisation is looking to move away from on-premises hardware and towards the cloud to achieve your modern data estate, our guide summaries the best service tiers to help you make an informed business case.
Here is Xello's top 5 SQL Server data platform modernisation options to help you map out your journey to Azure PaaS services.
Option #1 - Azure SQL Database Managed Instance
Do you want to lift and shift your SQL databases to the cloud without extensive re-engineering?
This service migrates your database environments (on-premises servers, virtual machines) and all of its functionality into Azure with near-complete engine compatibility with all released versions of SQL Server. If you migrate your databases to Managed Instance, you're effectively extending their support.
Azure Managed Instance Benefits
- No need to re-engineer applications to migrate to Azure
- Eliminates hardware and admin costs
- Fast resource provisioning and service scaling
- Advantages of PaaS without the same level of organisation change required
Managed Instance currently comes in two tiers - General Purpose and Business Critical - with both tiers guaranteeing 99.99% availability and the ability to independently select compute capacity and storage size.
Azure SQL Managed Instance is most suited if your business needs new applications or existing on-premises apps to leverage the latest SQL Server features available in Azure - especially because you can migrate your workloads to the cloud with minimal change and minimal need to re-engineer anything.
Option #2 - Azure SQL Database (PaaS)
Do you want to move to the cloud and fully leverage its scaling and managed service benefits?
Azure SQL Database is a relational database-as-a-service (DBaaS) option. With this option, your business can use the same features and functionality of SQL Server while leveraging the extensive and powerful capabilities of cloud computing and the wider Azure platform.
Benefits of Azure SQL Database
- 99.99% up-time Service Level Agreement (SLA)
- Azure AD authentication and single sign-on support (SSO)
- Automated backups
- Built-in high availability (HA)
- No ongoing SQL licensing costs with pay as you go model
- Point-in-time database restore capability
- Threat detection (alerts)
Azure SQL Database remains the best way to bring your SQL Server databases directly into the cloud, allowing you to take advantage of high-availability, on-demand scalability, in-built backup and disaster recovery and fully managed services for your workloads immediately. The tools on offer are all familiar too, with the added benefit of more features and cost-savings.
Option #3 - Azure Virtual Machines
Do you need more time to plan and implement your next move?
Re-hosting your legacy SQL Server database(s) in Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) allows you to move your workloads to the cloud, with zero application code changes required. This lowers both the risks and costs of migrations.
The main advantage of Azure VMs if you’re looking to move away from your legacy environment in a risk free manner, and allows you to effectively lift and shift into the Azure cloud.
Azure Virtual Machine Benefits
- No need to re-engineer applications to migrate to Azure
- Extra years of critical patching past EOL for your older workloads
- Pay for what you use billing model
- Risk free
If your organisation needs a fast migration pathway to the cloud with minimal business disruption, Azure VM is best suited.
Option #4 - Azure SQL Database Reserved Capacity
Are you searching for the most cost-effective path to the Azure cloud?
Azure SQL Database Reserved Capacity is right up your alley - it’s another SQL service option from Microsoft designed specifically for organisations who want to start leveraging the cloud’s extensive capabilities while still taking advantage of discounts.
Azure Reserved Capacity allows you to save up to 33% on your Azure SQL Database migration by making a upfront commitment to pre-purchase your desired amount of SQL Database vCores (compute) for a one or three-year term.
Azure Reserved Capacity Benefits
- Better control and flexibility over your databases’ resource consumption
- Pre-purchased reservations are dynamically applied to any matching databases and elastic pools you have, whether newly deployed or are already running
- Purchased reservations can cover one subscription or multiple subscriptions
- Prepaid pricing model helps you budget and forecast better
On top of the regular discount offer, you can also stack up to 55% in further savings for your SQL Server and Windows Server costs in Azure by combining your Software Assurance and existing licenses to leverage Azure Hybrid Benefit. This makes it the most cost-friendly option if you need to upgrade from legacy infrastructure now.
Option #5 - Azure SQL Database Hyperscale
Do you need the fastest and most scalable service tier of Azure for your large single database deployments?
Azure SQL Database Hyperscale is another option of Azure SQL Database. Azure SQL Database Hyperscale is a high performing database with new scaling technology, catering to organisations that need dynamic, rapid storage for very large databases (VLDBs).
Azure SQL Database Hyperscale Benefits
- Auto-scales up to 100TB for single databases
- Provision compute nodes that can serve read-only workloads, and use them as a hot standby in case of failover
- Scale compute and storage resources independently, with no sacrifice in performance
- Near instantaneous database backups, achieved via snapshots of data files taken from page servers at regular intervals to replace traditional streaming backup
Hyperscale fully leverages Microsoft Azure architecture for maximum scale for both compute and storage resources, and goes far beyond what's available in the other tiers.
Our pick of the bunch is Azure SQL Managed Instances, which offers a robust blend of flexibility with scale, taking advantage of the latest in PaaS on Azure. If you are looking at Modern Data Warehouse solutions on Azure, please view our Azure Synapse expertise page for more details on this great solution from Microsoft.