Microsoft Intros Frictionless Azure SQL Service Tiers Upgrades

Moving between SQL Database for Azure service tiers is easier. Customers can now move up (and down) SQL database cloud performance tiers with just a few clicks.

Microsoft Azure SQL Database

Following up on May's preview of the new SQL Database for Azure service tiers, Microsoft announced that it has streamlined the process of moving between those tiers.

SQL Database for Azure service tiers allow Microsoft Azure customers to adjust their cloud-based SQL setups according to their performance needs. Microsoft has a total of four SQL service tiers, the "one-size-fits-most" Web and Business editions and the three new preview offerings: basic, standard and premium.

Now, the company has "made it easy to upgrade existing databases to the new service tiers so you can try out the new performance levels," Tobias Ternstrom, Microsoft principal group program manager, wrote in a blog post. The company's aim is to provide organizations with the flexibility to move between tiers while eliminating administrative overhead.

The update enables customers to "upgrade any database in-place from Web or Business to Basic, Standard or Premium," said Ternstrom. As a result, businesses that park their SQL databases on Microsoft's cloud "can freely mix databases of any service tier on any server, and upgrade or downgrade databases between any service tier or performance level."

Administrators can make the switch by visiting the Azure management portal's Database Scale view. "Simply select the desired service tier and performance level and then click Save, Ternstrom said.

Upgrades occur fairly non-disruptively, reported Ternstrom, taking the suspense out of making changes to business-critical workloads. He claimed that databases "stay online throughout the upgrade operation, with only a brief disconnect/reconnect occurring at the end in some cases."

Similarly, the process should be a non-event on the application front. "The database connection string is unaltered, and your applications don't need to be changed or reconfigured," he added.

In addition, Microsoft has increased the performance of the basic and standard tiers. For example, basic plans have been bumped from 1 DTU (Database Throughput Unit) to 5 DTUs. A DTU translates into Microsoft benchmark online transaction processing (OLTP) transaction rates of 3,467 transactions per hour in the basic model, according to the company.

Other tweaks include point-in-time restore support for basic databases and an increase of backup retention periods on standard databases to 14 days. Also new is automated export to basic, standard and premium databases, which complements point-in-time restore with longer-term backups.

Microsoft also boosted the backup capabilities of its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering for Web apps.

Entering general availability, the Azure Web Sites backup and restore feature "now supports larger backup jobs and bigger sites can be backed up," Eduardo Laureano, a Microsoft senior program manager, wrote in a blog posting. Users also "can now configure a backup retention directly from the backup configuration without the need to manually delete old backups or create special scripts for removal," he added.

And many more Azure-related updates are in the works, Microsoft teased.

On Monday, July 14, Microsoft is flipping the switch on two new Azure regions in Virginia and Iowa. Also on July 14, the company plans to "bring new IaaS functionality to the Azure Preview Portal, allowing users to easily manage virtual machines, as well as single-click SharePoint deployment for the management of multiple virtual machines within the portal," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK.

Microsoft is also kicking off a preview of Azure Event Hubs for the Internet of things (IoT). The cloud-based IoT solution "can broker millions of events per second, allowing partners and customers to pull in, process and analyze data from a nearly infinite number of cloud-connected smart devices," said the spokesperson.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...