Azure SQL Data Platform Deployment Models

Want to learn the basics of Azure SQL database service and the various deployment options available with it? Here is the complete explanation of the Azure SQL data platform deployment models!

Database management is one of the prominently striking concerns for developers, system administrators, and database administrators equally. The search for an ideal database management solution for the cloud is becoming complex due to the emerging requirements of enterprises and frequent modifications in the trends of application and software development.

Among all the viable options, the Microsoft Azure SQL data platform is the effective choice for managing a major share of your database management functions. However, lack of proper guidance regarding the implementation of the Azure SQL Database could result in many doubts about its effectiveness.

Therefore, you should learn about the basics of Azure SQL database service and the various deployment options available with it. The following discussion would provide you with clear and relevant information regarding the Azure SQL database and its deployment models. Furthermore, the discussion would also cover important pointers that can help you in the selection of the right deployment model according to your requirements.

What is Azure SQL Database and Why is It Important?

Before discussing the deployment models in the Azure SQL data platform, let us know the service itself properly. The data platform is actually a Platform as a Service (PaaS) database engine that comes with the assurance of full management by Microsoft Azure.

Azure SQL Database is the perfect platform for administering the majority of database management functions such as monitoring, upgrading, backups, and patching without the involvement of users. Azure SQL Database always runs on the latest stable version of the SQL Server Database Engine. In addition, it also associates with the patched OS to deliver 99.99% availability.

The PaaS capabilities of Azure SQL database service help you emphasize on domain-centric database optimization and administration activities that are important for your business. Here is an outline of the notable functionalities of the Azure SQL database that can help you.

  • Users can create a data storage layer for Azure applications and solutions with the assurance of high availability and performance.
  • SQL Database has the ability to support the processing of relational data as well as non-relational structures such as XML, JSON, and spatial.
  • Azure SQL database offers better query processing features like intelligent query processing and high-performance in-memory technologies.
  • Users get the latest features of SQL Server in the SQL database without the need for any overheads for upgrading or patching.
  • Azure SQL data platform offers two different purchasing models, such as the vCore-based purchasing model and the DTU-based purchasing model.
  • Microsoft provides full management of all services on the Azure SQL database. It handles all the patching and updating for SQL code and operating system code. In addition, you get promising support from in-built features such as backups, high availability, and other general maintenance operations.

Also Read: Steps to Migrate to Azure SQL Database

Deployment Models on Azure SQL Data Platform

After covering the basics, let us turn our attention towards the deployment models in the Azure SQL database. You can find the following three notable deployment models with the Azure SQL database.

  • Single database.
  • Managed instance.
  • Elastic pool.

Each of these deployment models has unique characteristics that suit the different requirements of enterprises. So, let us find out more about these deployment models on the Azure SQL data platform and compare them to find the ideal deployment solution according to your needs.

Azure SQL Database

  • Single Database Deployment

The single database deployment option in the Azure SQL database involves the creation of a database in SQL Database having its own particular set of resources. In addition, the SQL Database server works for the management of the database.

In the case of single database deployment, every database is an isolated entity with portability and own service tier, and a definite compute size. The single database option among Azure SQL data platform deployment models is basically a contained database.

You can find the database in the Microsoft SQL Server Database Engine. The single database deployment option is ideal for use cases involving microservices and modern cloud applications requiring a specific reliable data source.

Also Read: AWS vs Azure Database Service Comparison

  • Managed Instance

The managed instance deployment option for Azure SQL Data platform is new. It is capable of almost 100% compatibility with the latest SQL Server on-premise Database Engine. As a result, you can access a native virtual network (VNet) implementation for addressing common security concerns.

You would also get a business model that is ideally favorable for customers of on-premises SQL Server. Existing SQL Server customers could follow the lift and shift approach for migrating their on-premises applications to the cloud with managed instance deployment model. In addition, you would not have to deal with major application and database modifications.

Most important of all, managed instance deployment also provides all PaaS functionalities related to version updates, patching, high availability, and automated backups. Basically, the managed instance is a collection of databases that you can use together.

Therefore, the managed instance deployment option is suitable for easier migration of on-premises SQL Server databases to the Azure platform. Furthermore, it is also ideal for applications that have to use database features provided by SQL Server Database Engine.

  • Elastic Pool Model

The final addition among Azure SQL data platform deployment models is the elastic pool model. SQL Database elastic pools provide a flexible and highly cost-efficient solution for management and scaling of multiple databases with high variability and uncertainty in user demands.

The elastic pool is basically the collection of single databases which share a particular set of resources like memory or CPU. The highly variable usage patterns of different customers imply the need for immediate solutions, which turned out to be over-provisioning of resources or under-provisioning of resources.

However, both of these solutions have certain trade-offs that are not good for business. For example, if you over-provision resources, then you have to pay more. On the other hand, if you under-provision resources, then you can save costs, albeit compromising customer satisfaction and application performance during peak hours.

The Elastic pool deployment model on Azure SQL data platform solves this issue by providing assurance of the access of databases to performance resources, according to your requirements. The simple resource allocation mechanism in the elastic pool deployment model is also a reliable option to save money within a predictable budget.

Elastic Database

Factors to Consider for Choosing Deployment Models on Azure SQL Database

With the above-mentioned outline of various deployment models in Azure SQL database, we should now proceed towards the factors you have to consider for selecting one. The important criteria for selecting deployment models include cost, ease of administration, service-level agreement, and time for moving to Azure.

  • Cost

Cost is one of the primary concerns when you are selecting deployment models for the Azure SQL data platform. You can explore the pricing for different deployment models and notice some explicit advantages. For example, automatic configuration, patching, and upgrading by Microsoft is a given with the new deployment models.

However, it is also essential to use the different pricing tools to estimate your options for choosing a deployment model. The costs of new development and existing administration costs alongside public cloud platform service costs are critical concerns for businesses. The important pricing tools include SQL database pricing, Azure Pricing Calculator, and Virtual machine pricing for SQL.                

  • Ease of Administration

The next prominent aspect you should look into for selecting the ideal deployment model for Azure SQL data platform is administration. Single databases, elastic pools and managed instance deployment models take away the need for management of database engine. So, you are trading off control by opting for these deployment models.

Therefore, you have to look for the deployment model that fits right with your requirements of control over the database engine. For example, you can administer databases and logins, auditing, security, query tuning and index tuning. In addition, you can also configure high availability for another centre with effortless administration and configuration.

  • Service Level Agreements

SLAs or Service-Level Agreements establish the foundation for the effectiveness of a particular service. SQL database claims 99.99% availability in its SLAs. So, you have the assurance of high availability with your database. On the other hand, you should compare the SLAs before choosing the right deployment option in Azure SQL database.

  • Speed of Migration to Azure

Azure SQL data platform is capable of managing massive cloud migration workloads. So, you have to consider the deployment models according to the support they offer in migration of data to Azure. In this case, you should take various factors into consideration, along with the cost of reviewing every deployment model.

A thorough evaluation of all the deployment models according to the above-mentioned criteria could help you in selecting the right alternative. Most important of all, these criteria support you in reducing costs and simplifying operations. Furthermore, you can also establish metrics and accomplish objectives for database migration and management easily.

There are a number of factors that affect disk space requirements for the SQL server. Check out my previous blog where I have enlisted the Factors Affecting Disk Space Requirements for SQL Server

Final Words

Azure SQL database has a wide range of features that present it as one of the reliable cloud data platforms. However, choosing the right deployment option in the Azure SQL database is highly essential. It optimizes all your data-related projects. As you can notice, each deployment model has specific functionalities and features.

Therefore, you have to consider the features that can align with your requirements perfectly. Database administration is one of the cost-intensive tasks in the world of cloud computing. Therefore, enterprises primarily focus on cost reduction while selecting database migration solutions. On the contrary, you should focus on the facility of security features and better control over the administration of databases.  

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