Azure SQL Revealed (Apress)
Article Index
Azure SQL Revealed (Apress)
Chapters 4 - 7
Chapters 8 - 10, Conclusion

Author: Bob Ward
Publisher: Apress
Pages: 528
ISBN: 978-1484259306 Print: 1484259300 Kindle: B08MBX5X99 Audience: SQL Server DBAs
Rating: 5
Reviewer: Ian Stirk 

This book aims to explain the various versions of SQL Server in Azure, how does it fare? 

Businesses are increasingly moving applications to cloud infrastructure, owing to its many advantages (e.g. elastic scalability and reduced cost). Azure is a big player in cloud provisioning - so it makes sense for SQL Server DBAs to learn about the direction their technology and jobs are heading. 

This book is aimed at SQL Server DBAs that want to extend their existing on-premise SQL Server knowledge to the various versions of SQL Server in Azure. This approach should be useful since it uses your existing SQL Server knowledge to explain how things work with SQL Server in the cloud. 

Below is a chapter by chapter exploration of the topics covered.


Chapter 1:​ SQL Server Rises to the Clouds

The book opens with quite a long discussion on the origins of Azure. Various projects and topics are covered, including: CloudDB, RedDog, SQL Azure, Azure Virtual Machines, Elastic Pools, Azure SQL Managed Instance, and Hyperscale (don’t worry too much about the detail, the author does a great job explaining the underlying purpose of each component).

Although the chapter content might appear a little strange (so much history), it presents an understanding of the evolution of various Azure components, and its various projects are referenced throughout the book. The chapter ends with an “Azure SQL today” section, which is a helpful refresher after all the history.

One particular problem I have personally, is the way Microsoft has/is continually changing the name of Azure products (e.g. SQL Azure to SQL Azure Database, and many more) – it is frustrating!

Overall, this chapter is easy to read, having good explanations and flow between sections, helpful diagrams, useful practical walkthroughs, and many useful website links for further information. A degree of humour is given that assists the reading. The author acknowledges that sometimes, the images/instructions in the book may not match those in Azure itself (the product gets updated regularly). Where possible the author explains features in terms of any corresponding on-premise SQL Server features (i.e. the audience is assumed to be SQL Server DBAs that want to know about the various types of SQL Server on Azure). These traits apply to the whole of the book.

Chapter 2:​ What Is Azure SQL?​

Since the various offering of Azure SQL Server are embedded within the Azure infrastructure, it makes sense to explain this hosting environment. The chapter opens with a primer on the Azure ecosystem, explaining Azure’s major components, including: accounts, subscriptions, portal, marketplace, resource manager, monitor, regions, and Service-Level Agreement (SLA).

There’s a very useful diagram and explanation of the various Azure SQL offerings, namely: 

  • Azure SQL Virtual Machine – Azure manages host/hardware, you manage the VM

  • Azure SQL Managed Instance – Azure manages host/hardware and VM, you manage SQL Server

  • Azure SQL Database – Azure manages host/hardware, VM, and SQL Server, you manage database 

You may need to refer to this diagram frequently initially, until you become familiar with these 3 Azure SQL offerings. The chapter proceeds with more detail on each of the Azure SQL options, explaining their capabilities, options, and limitations. Comparisons between the different offerings gives useful hints on which option is likely to best suite your own particular needs. 

There’s another excellent diagram and associated discussion covering the various Azure SQL Database options, including: DTU v vCores, General Purpose (Provisioned and Serverless), Business Critical, and Hyperscale. The author’s knowledgeable explanations make everything much clearer. 

The chapter ends with an overview on the many interfaces to Azure SQL – however, many of these are just links to Microsoft documentation. 

If you are new to Azure, this chapter provides a helpful overview of its major components, their purpose and basic usage.  After reading this chapter, you’ll have a much better understanding of what Microsoft offers for SQL Server, and you’ll undoubtedly have ideas for migrating your own SQL Server systems to the appropriate option. 

Chapter 3:​ SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machine

In many ways, Azure SQL Virtual Machine is like running your on-premise SQL Servers on a VM, here you have most control over your SQL Server, with Azure providing additional cloud services. With this in mind, this chapter focusses solely on Azure SQL VM, and is little discussed in other chapters (but, many features in the chapters on security, performance, and Availability are still applicable).

The chapter opens with a look at deploying (creating) the SQL Server on Azure VM, looking at pricing, software images, and regions/availability. There’s a detailed look at VM sizes, these affect costs/performance etc. This is followed with a discussion on various configuration options. There’s a brief look at performance monitoring (using inbuilt Azure tools), networking, and High Availability / Disaster Recovery (HA/DR). Some useful walkthroughs are provided (e.g. deploying your SQL VM).

If you want most control over your SQL Server, enhanced with various Azure functionality, Azure VM will probably be the option for you. But remember, you will need to take care of updating SQL Server etc yourself.

This chapter provides a very useful introduction and overview of Azure SQL Virtual Machine, and the included links provide all you need to investigate this option further. 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 March 2021 )