To understand how Azure SQL pricing works, we’ll first talk about how the Azure SQL service is offered. Expanding from one limited offering to a set of services, Azure SQL is a family of managed products built upon the familiar SQL Server database engine, useful for migrating SQL workloads, modernizing existing applications, and more.
Running Azure SQL database
When Azure SQL Database first launched in 2010, its only offering was a single pricing option. But, now the Azure SQL portfolio has a more complex service model, with many possible combinations of deployment options, including compute models and service tiers. It has grown from “Azure SQL” to a multi-faceted service. It offers three deployment models, two service tiers, and two compute options.
To run Azure SQL databases, you’ll first need to choose your deployment option. This is how you’ll structure the SQL server and its databases. Then, you’ll need to choose your purchase model to pay for your service. Select your service tier for the level of compute power you want. And, your compute tier to be able to either compute 24/7 or on-demand basis.
Azure SQL Deployment Models
Azure SQL deployment options differ primarily in their cost and the amount of control they give you over the underlying platform. Deployment options determine how to structure the “SQL Server” and its databases. The three options available are:
- Azure SQL Database is a general-purpose relational database, provided as a managed service.
- Azure SQL Managed Instance – this option modernizes existing SQL Server applications at scale with the managed instance as a service.
- SQL Server on Azure VMs for lifting-and-shifting the SQL Server workload provides full control over the SQL Server instance
Azure SQL Pricing Models
Depending on the deployment model you’ve chosen for Azure SQL database. There are two purchasing models available:
- The vCore-based purchasing model is available for both Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed Instance. And, the Hyperscale service tier, available for single databases using the vCore-based purchasing model.
- The DTU-based purchasing model is available for Azure SQL Database.
Here are some examples of how the various pricing options play out:
To better understand the related storage costs and compare different storage options, calculate Azure SQL costs for your specific scenario using Azure’s pricing calculator.
Azure SQL Service Tiers
There are two service tiers used by Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed Instance, each with a different architectural model. These service tiers include:
- A General Purpose tier for common workloads
- A Business Critical tier for high throughput OLTP applications requiring low latency and high resilience
And, Azure SQL Database offers an additional service tier called:
- A Hyperscale tier for very large OLTP systems with faster auto-scaling, backup and restore support.
Azure SQL Compute Tiers
Under the Azure SQL Database deployment option, under the vCore pricing model with General Purpose storage, you’ll find two options for your compute resources, these include:
- Provisioned: Azure SQL provides Azure resources that run your database with a fixed amount of compute resources for a fixed hourly price.
- Serverless: the database is provisioned as a serverless component with auto-scaling compute and billing for use per second
Optimizing Costs on Azure SQL
The choice to mix and match Azure SQL deployment options depends on your application and migration requirements. If you are still not sure which Azure SQL deployment option is right for your workloads, here are some tips from Microsoft on how to choose.
Now, to monitor and control your storage expenses and optimize usage in your SQL databases, yes, you can use Azure Cost Management. However, even though cloud efficiency is a core tenant of the Microsoft Azure Cost Management tool, optimization is not its strongest suit.
Another way to save money on Azure SQL Database and SQL Managed Instance is by committing to a reservation for compute resources compared to pay-as-you-go prices. With reserved capacity, you make a commitment for SQL Database and/or SQL Managed Instance use for a period of one or three years to get a significant discount on the compute costs. Or, In the provisioned compute tier of the vCore-based purchasing model, you can exchange your existing licenses for discounted rates on Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed Instance by using Azure Hybrid Benefit.
ParkMyCloud continues to add ways to optimize cloud environments no matter what cloud service you use. Azure SQL database types are just the latest cloud resources you can manage in the ParkMyCloud platform. Scheduling and parking recommendations will be available soon on these resources so you can optimize your costs more efficiently and automatically.
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