Microsoft cloud to SQL Server: let's have an open (source) relationship

Microsoft adds MySQL, PostgreSQL to Azure's managed relational database platform.
Written by Andrew Brust, Contributor

Microsoft loves to tell us it loves Linux. And we know it has made its Azure cloud hospitable to open source operating systems and programming languages. But what about the database layer? Microsoft has until now offered Azure SQL Database (a derivative of SQL Seve) as its only first-party managed relational database as a service. That has left open source developers, many of whom target open source relational databases, only half-accommodated.

But at Microsoft's Build conference, which kicks off today in Seattle, the Redmond software giant will announce previews of Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL, adding support for the two most prominent open source databases to its managed relational database platform.


The Azure relational database platform

Source: Microsoft

Cloud as big tent
"It's really about choice," Rohan Kumar, Microsoft's General Manager, Database Systems, told me yesterday as he briefed me on the new offerings. Kumar further explained: "if you're a developer, you sort of come and we meet you where you are." Indeed, open source developers will now find managed Azure services that accommodate the entire open source application development stack, including operating system, programming language and database.

Azure Database for MySQL/Postgres will eventually offer Basic, Standard, and Premium tiers, each featuring different levels of performance and storage capacity. They will also offer high availability and encryption, counterparts to similar facilities on Azure SQL DB. Some 18 Postgres extensions, including PostGIS, will be part of the core offering and others may be added as popularity and due diligence dictate. "The idea was that at preview we wanted to have the most popular ones" Kumar said.

During preview, the Basic tier will be broadly available and the Standard tier will be available in a limited number of Azure regions. Pricing will be at a 50% discount during the preview period, the duration which is intentionally variable, based on progress and customer feedback.

Putting RDS on notice
With the addition of Postgres and MySQL to the platform, Microsoft will have a credible competitor to Amazon's Relational Database Services (RDS), which currently supports Postgres, MySQL, MariaDB (a fork of MySQL), Oracle and SQL Server. And while price comparisons between Azure Database for MySQL/Postgres and Azure SQL DB may be made difficult by their different premises, Kumar was very confident that Azure's MySQL/Postgres offerings will be price-competitive with those same databases on RDS.

Amazon RDS also supports a service Amazon calls Aurora, which is a MySQL- and Postgres-compatible database of Amazon's own fashioning. Microsoft intentionally won't be offering an Aurora-like service on its relational platform, but rather will use standard community editions of MySQL and Postgres.

More data news
Microsoft is announcing its own database that supports access via MySQL, MongoDB and even Amazon DynamoDB APIs. That service, which is actually a geo-distributed NoSQL offering called CosmosDB, is the subject of a separate post by Mary Jo Foley, and well worth reading up on.

Other data-related news out of Day 1 of Build includes private previews of instance-level SQL Server compatibility on Azure SQL DB (to augment today's database-level compatibility), and a new Azure Batch AI Training service, allowing training of machine learning models against multiple CPUs, GPUs and, eventually, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). An early preview of database migration services, allowing Oracle and SQL Server applications to be more-easily shifted to Azure, is also part of today's Build keynote.

All in all, not a bad day for data, especially at a developer conference first aimed at Windows Developers and now at cloud application development.

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