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What is Azure SQL Database? A Complete Guide

02nd Apr, 2024
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    What is Azure SQL Database? A Complete Guide

    Do you want a database system that can scale quickly and manage heavy workloads? Should that be the case, Azure SQL Database might be your best bet. Microsoft SQL Server's functionalities are fully included in Azure SQL Database, a cloud-based database service that also offers greater flexibility and scalability. A managed environment that makes provisioning, patching, updating, and monitoring easier is provided by Azure SQL Database, which is built on the most recent stable version of the Microsoft SQL Server Database Engine. Based on the needs of your application, Azure SQL Databases can be deployed using various methods.

    In this article, I will cover the various aspects of Azure SQL Database.

    What is Azure SQL Database?

    A dependable and secure relational database-as-a-service, Microsoft Azure SQL Database offers excellent performance without requiring any infrastructure maintenance.

    It is compatible with spatial, JSON, XML, and relational data structures.

    There are three ways to deploy Microsoft Azure SQL Database:

    • Elastic pool
    • Single database
    • Managed instances

    Azure SQL vs. SQL Server

    Microsoft Azure SQL is a cloud-based relational database technology that allows customers to host and utilize data as a service. Just like any other cloud service, you just pay for what you have used. Because Azure SQL and SQL Server are similar, choosing between the two can be difficult because of their foundational differences. You may choose between them even if they are identical because of some rather apparent distinctions.

    Let me compare the two in the form of a table.


    Azure SQL Database

    SQL Server

    Deployment Model

    Cloud-based service

    On-premises or cloud deployment


    Fully managed service

    Self-managed infrastructure


    Auto-scaling and manual scaling

    Manual scaling and resource control

    High Availability

    Built-in high availability features

    Requires manual configuration


    Azure-managed security

    User-managed security


    Automatic updates and patching

    Manual updates and patching

    Cost Model

    Pay-as-you-go pricing

    Upfront licensing and maintenance


    Limited control over underlying infrastructure

    Full control over infrastructure

    Integration with Azure Services

    Seamless integration with other Azure services

    May require additional configuration for integration

    SQL Azure Architecture

    Understanding the straightforward SQL Azure architecture empowers businesses to leverage a reliable, scalable, and secure cloud database solution. I will give you an overview and if you wish to learn it in detail, enroll for Azure certification.

    • Client Layer: The client layer is where applications interact with SQL Azure. This could be any software or application that needs to store or retrieve data. It connects to the SQL Azure service using standard database connection libraries.
    • SQL Azure Gateway: The SQL Azure Gateway acts as the entry point for database connections. It handles authentication, allowing authorized clients to establish a secure connection to the SQL Azure databases. This layer ensures that only legitimate users access the database.
    • SQL Azure Fabric Layer: The Fabric Layer manages the distribution and allocation of resources across multiple servers. It ensures that databases are distributed efficiently for optimal performance and scalability. This layer handles tasks like load balancing and resource optimization.
    • Storage Layer: At the core of SQL Azure architecture is the Storage Layer. This is where the actual databases reside. The storage layer manages data storage, retrieval, and processing. It ensures data durability, replication for high availability, and efficient handling of queries, contributing to the reliability and performance of the SQL Azure service.

    Microsoft Azure SQL Database Pricing

    Without addressing managed instances or elastic pools, we will talk about a single database in this section.

    Since it is adaptable and lets you scale memory and storage according to your requirements, the vCore-based purchase model is the best choice for a single database. Optimizing cost and efficiency is achieved by utilizing the server's fewer computer layers.

    You pay Rs. 9.1213/month for 1 GB of space, however you can expand to 512 GB if needed.

    The cost of your weekly backups is Rs. 15,864 per month, and your database is replicated to RA-GRS.

    Next up, we'll talk about the price model in even more detail. Let's get right to it.

    Azure SQL Database Features

    Let me explain Microsoft azure sql database features in main points.

    • Managed Service: Azure SQL Database is a fully managed relational database service, eliminating the need for users to worry about database management tasks like patching, backups, and maintenance, allowing them to focus on application development.
    • Scalability Options: Azure SQL Database provides both vertical and horizontal scalability. Vertical scaling involves adjusting resources within a single database, while horizontal scaling distributes data across multiple databases for improved resource utilization.
    • Security Features: Robust security measures include Transparent Data Encryption (TDE), Azure Active Directory authentication, and Advanced Threat Protection. These features safeguard data and ensure secure access to databases.
    • Automated Backups and Point-in-Time Restore: Automatic backups ensure data durability, and users can perform point-in-time restores, allowing them to recover databases to a specific point in time, providing flexibility in data recovery.
    • Geo-Replication: Azure SQL Database offers Geo-Replication for creating readable replicas of databases in different regions. This enhances both performance and disaster recovery capabilities.
    • Advanced Analytics and AI Integration: Integration with Azure Machine Learning and Power BI allows users to perform advanced analytics and incorporate machine learning capabilities into their applications.
    • Compatibility: Azure SQL Database is compatible with on-premises SQL Server, making it easy for organizations to migrate and run existing SQL Server workloads in the cloud.
    • Serverless Compute Model: The serverless computer model allows databases to automatically pause during inactivity, minimizing costs for infrequently used databases.
    • Intelligent Query Processing: Features like Adaptive Query Processing optimize query performance by adapting to varying workloads, improving overall database efficiency.
    • Integration with Azure Services: Azure SQL Database seamlessly integrates with various Azure services like Azure Functions, Azure Logic Apps, and Azure Power BI, enabling comprehensive solutions for data processing, analytics, and application development.

    Azure SQL Database Tiers

    Understanding these tiers allows users to select the most appropriate service level based on their application's performance, scalability, and budgetary requirements within Azure SQL Database. This is also part of the course to learn Cloud Computing.

    • Basic Tier: The Basic tier of Azure SQL Database offers cost-effective performance for small databases with light transactional workloads. It provides a limited set of features suitable for entry-level applications, starting from approximately $5 per month.
    • Standard Tier: The Standard tier caters to a broader range of workloads with increased performance and additional features. It's suitable for more substantial applications and starts from around $15 per month, offering a balance between cost and capabilities.
    • Premium Tier: Azure SQL Database's Premium tier delivers high-performance databases with advanced features, making it ideal for mission-critical applications. Starting from approximately $465 per month, this tier offers robust performance and extensive capabilities.
    • Premium RS (Reserved Capacity): The Premium RS tier provides reserved capacity for databases, ensuring predictable performance. It's a cost-effective option for applications with consistent resource needs, starting from approximately $465 per month, similar to the Premium tier.
    • Hyperscale Tier: The Hyperscale tier is designed for large-scale applications with heavy workloads, providing rapid scale-up options and automatic backups. Pricing for Hyperscale varies based on specific resource requirements and storage needs.
    • Business Critical Tier: The Business Critical tier is optimized for high I/O applications, featuring local SSD storage for low-latency data access. It's suitable for demanding business-critical workloads, and pricing is tailored based on specific configuration requirements.

    Azure SQL Database Services

    1. Database as a Service (DBaaS): Azure SQL Database is a Database as a Service (DBaaS) offering, where Microsoft manages the database infrastructure, including maintenance, backups, and updates, allowing users to focus solely on their applications.
    2. Fully Managed Relational Database: As a fully managed relational database service, Azure SQL Database takes care of routine database administration tasks, such as patching and backups, streamlining the development and deployment process.
    3. Scalability Options: Azure SQL Database provides flexibility with vertical and horizontal scaling. Users can easily adjust resources within a single database or distribute data across multiple databases for efficient scalability.
    4. Built-in Security Features: The service incorporates security features like Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) and Azure Active Directory authentication to ensure the protection of data and secure access to databases.
    5. Automatic Backups and Point-in-Time Restore: Automatic backups are performed regularly, and users can perform point-in-time restores, enabling them to recover databases to specific points in time for data recovery.
    6. Geo-Replication: Azure SQL Database offers Geo-Replication, creating readable replicas in different regions for enhanced performance and disaster recovery capabilities.
    7. Serverless Compute Model: The serverless computer model allows databases to automatically pause during inactivity, reducing costs for databases that are infrequently used.
    8. Compatibility with On-Premises SQL Server: Azure SQL Database is compatible with on-premises SQL Server, making it easy for organizations to migrate and run existing SQL Server workloads in the cloud.
    9. Intelligent Query Processing: Features like Adaptive Query Processing optimize query performance by adapting to varying workloads, enhancing overall efficiency and responsiveness.
    10. Integration with Azure Services: Azure SQL Database seamlessly integrates with various Azure services like Azure Functions, Azure Logic Apps, and Azure Power BI, offering a comprehensive solution for data processing, analytics, and application development.

    How To Work With The Azure SQL Database Service?

    Please go through the step wise process mentioned below:

    1. Create an Azure SQL Database: Start by logging into the Azure Portal, navigating to the SQL databases section, and creating a new database. Specify settings such as server details, performance tier, and collation.
    2. Set Up a Server: Create an Azure SQL Database server to host your database. Configure server settings, including login credentials and firewall rules to control access.
    3. Connect to the Database: Use your preferred database tool, like SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) or Azure Data Studio, to connect to the Azure SQL Database. Provide the server details and login credentials.
    4. Database Management: Once connected, manage your database by running queries, creating tables, and performing other operations. Azure SQL Database supports Transact-SQL (T-SQL) commands for database management.
    5. Configure Security: Enhance security by configuring features like Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) and setting up Azure Active Directory authentication. This helps protect your data and control user access.
    6. Backup and Restore: Implement a backup strategy using Azure's automated backup features. In case of data loss or corruption, you can perform point-in-time restores to recover your database.
    7. Scale Resources: Adjust resources based on your application needs. You can scale up or down vertically by changing the performance tier or horizontally by distributing data across multiple databases.
    8. Monitor and Optimize: Utilize Azure Monitor to keep an eye on performance metrics, detect issues, and optimize your database. Make use of features like Intelligent Query Processing to enhance query performance.
    9. Implement Geo-Replication: Set up Geo-Replication for disaster recovery and improved performance by creating readable replicas in different regions. This helps in ensuring business continuity.
    10. Integrate with Other Azure Services: Leverage the capabilities of Azure SQL Database by integrating it with other Azure Functions, Azure Logic Apps, or Azure Power BI to create comprehensive solutions for data processing and analytics.

    Advantages Of The Azure SQL Database

    Although there are numerous advantages of the Azure SQL Database, I have explained the Top 5 below:

    1. Easy Management: Azure SQL Database takes care of the nitty-gritty of database management, from updates to backups. This means less hassle for you, allowing more time to focus on your applications.
    2. Flexible Scaling: Whether you need more power for a single database or want to spread data across multiple databases, Azure SQL Database has you covered. It grows with your needs, ensuring efficient resource use and cost-effectiveness.
    3. Top-notch Security: Your data is in safe hands with Azure SQL Database. It comes with strong security features like encryption and secure access, keeping your information protected.
    4. Reliable Backups and Recovery: Azure SQL Database automatically backs up your data, and if something goes wrong, you can restore it to a specific point in time. This ensures your data is always safe and recoverable.
    5. Seamless Integration: It plays well with other Azure services, making it easy to create comprehensive solutions. Whether you're working with functions, logic apps, or analytics, Azure SQL Database smoothly integrates into the broader Azure ecosystem, making your work more efficient. 


    Azure SQL Database provides businesses of all sizes with a reliable, scalable, and secure cloud-based data management solution. With its many features and capabilities, it makes it possible to design applications more effectively, perform better, and manage them more easily. Azure SQL Database has become a potent instrument for contemporary cloud data management thanks to its smooth interaction with other Azure services.

    I hope that this article has improved your comprehension of the Azure price deployment model procedures in relation to the notion of Microsoft Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Database features, and Azure SQL Database architectural flow. Professional developers, Azure cloud developers, and DBAs will find this material useful. Also, to learn the latest concepts and make your resume stronger, plan to apply for KnowledgeHut Azure solution architect certification.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1Can I migrate my existing SQL Server database to Azure SQL Database?

    It is possible to convert a SQL Server database to an Azure SQL database. Single database migrations can be accomplished with the Data Migration Assistant (DMA) desktop program. For the target environment, the DMA recommends modifications to performance and reliability. You can test the database, keep an eye on it, and use Azure's security capabilities after the migration. 

    2What security features does Azure SQL Database offer?
    • Transparent Data Encryption (TDE): Azure SQL Database uses TDE to encrypt data at rest, safeguarding it from unauthorized access. 
    • Azure Active Directory Authentication: Enhances security by using Azure AD identities for database access, providing centralized authentication and authorization. 
    • Advanced Threat Protection: Monitors and detects unusual database activities, offering proactive security against potential threats and vulnerabilities. 
    3Does Azure SQL Database provides automatic backups?

    Fully automated and managed SQL Server database engine backups are offered by Azure SQL Managed Instance. These backups allow you to recover your database up to 35 days into the selected retention period, to a precise point in time. Azure Backup uses Azure Storage encryption to encrypt all your backed-up data while it is stored in the cloud.


    Kingson Jebaraj

    Multi Cloud Architect

    Kingson Jebaraj is a highly respected technology professional, recognized as both a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) and an Alibaba Most Valuable Professional. With a wealth of experience in cloud computing, Kingson has collaborated with renowned companies like Microsoft, Reliance Telco, Novartis, Pacific Controls UAE, Alibaba Cloud, and G42 UAE. He specializes in architecting innovative solutions using emerging technologies, including cloud and edge computing, digital transformation, IoT, and programming languages like C, C++, Python, and NLP. 

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