Microsoft realigns its SQL Azure cloud database line-up

Microsoft realigns its SQL Azure cloud database line-up

Summary: Microsoft is retiring its SQL Web and Business cloud-database service tiers in April 2015 and replacing them with new Basic, Standard and Premium ones.


Microsoft realigns its cloud database line-up


Microsoft is taking away some of its current cloud-database service tiers and replacing them with new ones.

Microsoft officials announced that the company will be retiring its SQL Database Web and Business service tiers on April 24, 2015. At the same time, the company is rolling out previews for new Basic and Standard tiers, officials said in an April 24 blog posting. (Microsoft officials said they will ensure customers have at least six months of general availability of the new tiers before retiring the old ones, even if that involves extending the retirement date.)

Microsoft already unveiled plans for a new Premium tier for its Azure SQL Database. But it wasn't until today, April 24, that preview releases of all three SQL Azure  tiers -- Basic, Standard and Premium -- were made pubicly available.

According to Microsoft's blog post, the new tiers offer a stronger uptime service level agreement (SLA) at 99.95 percent, plus support for larger database sizes (up to 500 GB) for less money.

Microsoft's descriptions of the three new tiers:

1. Basic: Designed for applications with a light transactional workload. Performance objectives for Basic provide a predictable hourly transaction rate.
2. Standard: Standard is the go-to option for getting started with cloud-designed business applications. It offers mid-level performance and business continuity features. Performance objectives for Standard deliver predictable per minute transaction rates.
3. Premium: Designed for mission-critical databases, Premium offers the highest performance levels and access to advanced business continuity features. Performance objectives for Premium deliver predictable per second transaction rates.

Here's Microsoft's pricing chart for the new tiers.


As noted, these prices are for the preview, and reflect a 50 percent preview discount that presumably will be eliminated once the new tiers are made generally available. Here's the pricing chart for the current Web and Business tiers.

Microsoft also is adding new "business continuity" features across the three new SQL Azure tiers that are designed to remove import/export and data-sync workarounds. Those new features include self-service restore and active geo-replication.

Microsoft made a tweak to its Windows Azure tiers/pricing earlier this week with the addition of a new Basic tier for Azure Web Sites.

Topics: Cloud, Big Data, Data Management, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Generally a change for the better

    This is really great news. SQL database was the one piece of Azure I have been consistently unhappy with. Sometimes it works great, but other times things fail or time out even when your application isn't really that busy. These new tiers won't eliminate problems or the need to be cloud-friendly (e.g. automatically retry a failed query with appropriate back-off logic), but it does sound like the situation will significantly improve.

    The preview prices seem reasonable to me, but the GA prices do not. $40/mo for a S1 seems a bit too high for smaller databases. For example, if you have a lot of little 1 GB databases that demands performance better than what the Basic tier can offer, that gets really expensive. I'm not sure what their wholesale costs are, but I hope they can consider something cheaper than their current GA price structure.
    • $40/mo is too high...$20 is bearable

      I agree with compupc1. The $40/mo makes me want to look elsewhere...As much as I like the idea of Azure, it's beginning to feel like I'm about to be ripped-off in database pricing, so it makes me re-think going towards azure at all. And this price is just for "normal" performance (not even premium)!!