What is Azure SQL Database service?

Microsoft SQL Database is a high-performance, reliable, and secure database environment you can use to build data-driven applications and websites in the programming language of your choice, without needing to manage infrastructure.

Azure SQL is a fully managed, relational Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) in the Microsoft cloud (Azure). A Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering, SQL Database delivers predictable performance, scalability with no downtime, business continuity, and data protection.

Azure SQL Database delivers predictable performance at multiple service levels that provide dynamic scalability with no downtime, built-in intelligent optimization, global scalability and availability, and advanced security options.

Azure SQL Database offers four service tiers for both single and pooled databases.

Benefits of Azure SQL over on premises.

SQL Server is simply a platform for the retention and management of data. It’s often on a server in your data center. So, you would need to manage the hardware, networking, etc.

Azure SQL Database is optimized to reduce the overall cost for provisioning and managing multiple database. It reduces ongoing administration cost because you will not need to manage any virtual machines, operating system, database software, or manage upgrades, high availability or backups. In general, Azure SQL Database can dramatically increase the number of databases managed by a single IT or development resource.

Azure is a collection of various service offerings. Azure services are hosted in one of Microsoft’s data centers. These data centers provide patching and other maintenance, so you don’t have to worry as much about the underlying infrastructure. Examples of services include custom VMs, websites, virtual private networks, HDInsight, as well as SQL Server (on a VM or as a SQL Database in the cloud). It minimizes ongoing administration costs because you no longer have to manage any virtual machines, operating system, or database software, including upgrades, high availability, and backups.

The difference between a SQL Server in Azure vs. SQL Database is that SQL Server is more Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) vs. PaaS. This means that with a SQL Database, you don’t have to worry as much about the maintenance/infrastructure as you would with a SQL Server as a VM.

Here’s a simple comparison of the primary differences between the three different options of hosting SQL Databases with both SQL Server and Azure SQL:

SQL Server Azure SQL Azure VM + SQL Server
Hosting: On-premises Azure PaaS Azure IaaS
Licensing: Require SQL Server license No SQL Server license required Requires SQL Server license
Max DB Size: Based on SQL Server license


16TB due to Azure VM disk restrictions
Azure Cost: None, it’s on-premises Based on Database Throughput Units* (DTU’s) consumed Azure VM** usage
Other Cost: Infrastructure costs associated with on-premise database server None SQL Server licensing

SQL Database performance

Adjust performance and scale without downtime

SQL Database offers four service tiers to support lightweight to heavyweight database workloads: Basic, Standard, Premium, and Premium RS. You can build your first app on a small, single database at a low cost per month and then change its service tier manually or programmatically, at any time to meet the needs of your solution. You can adjust performance without downtime to your app. Dynamic scalability enables your database to respond to rapidly changing resource requirements transparently and enables you to only pay for the resources that you need when you need them.

Elastic pools to maximize resource utilization

An elastic database pool is a collection of elastic database throughput units (eDTUs) and storage (GBs) that are shared by multiple databases. Elastic databases can be added to and removed from the pool at any time. Elastic Databases makes it possible to share database capacity between different databases. You can compare it to adding resources to a shared server rather than assign resources to individual databases. Of course, this PaaS service comes with the ability to scale up/down as most PaaS services do (meaning that you are not locked into a specific database capacity). It is just as easy to change as always, through the portal, PowerShell, and APIs. The pooled databases consume the performance resources of the elastic pool as needed.

Azure SQL Database Security

Security is always the main concern for Customers & Organizations when they think about moving to the cloud. Azure provides new security paradigms and robust security at physical, logical and data access layers for both Application and Databases. Azure SQL Database is a cloud based “Database as a Service” offering from Microsoft. Azure SQL Database has many security features to make you sleep well at night.

Azure SQL Database has the following security features:

  • Built-in Security on Azure
  • Firewall and ACLS (Access Control Lists)
  • Authentication with SQL or Azure AD (AAD)
  • Manage Permissions using Database roles and Server roles
  • Database Auditing for logging and monitoring

Data protection options using the following:

  • Transparent Data Encryption
  • Always Encrypted
  • Encrypting Transit Data
  • Row Level Security (RLS)
  • Dynamic Data Masking (DDM)
  • Threat Detection