Monday 24 April 2023

Azure SQL Managed Instance Vs Azure SQL Database Vs SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines

Choosing the right deployment option for your SQL Server workloads in Azure is a crucial decision that depends on various factors, including your application requirements, control preferences, and the level of management overhead you are willing to handle. In this blog post, we'll explore the key differences and considerations for Azure Database, Azure SQL Managed Instance, and SQL Server on Virtual Machines (VMs).

Azure Database:


  • Managed Service: Azure Database is a fully managed relational database service provided by Microsoft Azure.
  • Scalability: It offers automatic and elastic scaling with built-in high availability and security features.
  • PaaS Model: Azure Database follows the Platform as a Service (PaaS) model, abstracting away infrastructure management.
  • Database as a Service: Well-suited for applications with varying workloads and a desire to focus more on the application and less on database management.


  • Simplicity: Azure Database is the simplest option, providing a hassle-free database experience.
  • Cost Efficiency: Pay-as-you-go pricing model can be cost-effective for variable workloads.
  • Automatic Updates: Microsoft handles maintenance tasks, including updates and patches.

Azure SQL Managed Instance:


  • Managed Service with Compatibility: Azure SQL Managed Instance is a fully managed SQL Server instance in Azure with near 100% compatibility with on-premises SQL Server.
  • PaaS Model with Compatibility: Combines the benefits of PaaS with the compatibility of SQL Server, making it suitable for lift-and-shift scenarios.
  • VNET Integration: Allows easier migration of applications that rely on SQL Server features not available in Azure SQL Database.


  • Compatibility: Ideal for applications that require compatibility with existing SQL Server features.
  • Control: Offers more control than Azure Database, making it a suitable option for applications with specific requirements.
  • Migration: Simplifies migration from on-premises SQL Server environments.

SQL Server on Virtual Machines (VMs):


  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): SQL Server on VMs involves deploying and managing virtual machines in Azure running SQL Server.
  • Full Control: Provides complete control over the SQL Server instance, including the underlying operating system.
  • BYOL (Bring Your Own License): Allows the use of existing SQL Server licenses, providing flexibility for licensing.


  • Flexibility: Offers the highest level of flexibility, allowing you to customize the environment to meet specific needs.
  • Complex Scenarios: Suitable for complex scenarios where specific configurations, features, or applications require full control.

Choosing the Right Option:

  • Simplicity and Managed Service: If simplicity and a fully managed service are priorities, Azure Database is a strong contender.
  • Compatibility and More Control: If compatibility with on-premises SQL Server and additional control are crucial, Azure SQL Managed Instance is worth considering.
  • Full Control and Flexibility: For scenarios demanding full control over infrastructure and SQL Server instances, SQL Server on VM provides the utmost flexibility.

Ultimately, the choice depends on your unique requirements and preferences. Whether you prioritize ease of use, compatibility, or full control, Azure provides a range of options to meet your SQL Server deployment needs.

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