Databases on cloud VMs [virtual machines].

Considerations when moving a SQL Server database to the cloud.

Select a cloud platform (Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are the leading choices.

Decide on running your own SQL Server database or using the platform’s managed SQL Server database.

These two choices result in the following four options:

(1) Azure VM [virtual machine]: Azure VMs [virtual machines] are more secure than SQL Database because you can configure and restrict their access by IP address. Azure VM [virtual machine] is better than Amazon EC2 [elastic compute cloud] for hybrid clouds that combine the features of public and private clouds.

(2) Azure SQL Database: Azure SQL Database is easier to administer than Azure VMs because Azure handles most of these tasks, but this also makes it less configurable than VMs [virtual machines]. SQL Database is better able to utilize cloud resources because it is native to the cloud, while Amazon RDS [Amazon Web Services] is only cloud-capable.

(3) Amazon EC2 [elastic compute cloud]: You can replace an existing EC2 [elastic compute cloud] with one that had greater vertical scaling, typically for the purpose of improving load balance. The biggest advantage of EC2 [elastic compute cloud] over and Azure VM [virtual machine] is that you can provision an EC2 [elastic compute cloud] instance for each AWS [Amazon Web Services] account, allowing you to create varied instances of SQL Server.

(4) Amazon RDS for SQL Server: RDS users have no access to the SQL Server’s OS [operating system], which has some consequences when migrating databases. RDS [relational database service] provides complete support for SQL Server, whereas SQL Database only supports a subset of SQL Server’s features.


VM [virtual machine] versus managed database: Running your database on cloud VMs [virtual machines] has greater flexibility in configuration, but it also requires more expertise to administer. A managed cloud database may be a better choice if you do not have the resources for a dedicated DBA [database administrator], especially if you are developing a new database.

Azure versus Amazon: Azure generally has more features than AWS [Amazon Web Services], especially for deploying and scaling databases. AWS [Amazon Web Services] is more favorable for open-source development, which is often the deciding factor for Linux shops.

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Databases on Cloud VMs versus Managed Cloud Databases

When moving SQL Server databases to the cloud, you need to make a couple of major decisions right away. First, select a cloud platform. Next, decide between running SQL Server on the platform’s cloud-based virtual machines (VMs) and using the platform’s managed SQL Server database. Learn about these two choices and the resulting options so that you can make better-informed decisions when moving SQL Server databases to the cloud.

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