Latest Azure updates related to SQL (and Oracle)

Azure updates continue to come thick and fast.

Scott Guthrie has posted again today about a number of enhancements just released. From these, I think the following are the most interesting for SQL Server devotees:

1. I posted last week about the new A5 size Azure VMs. These will be a good option for many SQL VMs, particularly those based on tabular data models.

2. Microsoft continues their partnership with Oracle by providing VM templates with Oracle software preinstalled. This is by far the quickest way to try any of this software, particularly for SQL Server folk that just want to try something on Oracle versions. Versions supported are:

  • Weblogic Server 12c and 11g
  • Database 12c and 11g
  • Java Platform Standard Edition 6

3. You can now also modify VMs that are stopped, for operations like adding disks.

4. A single Azure subscription can now deal with multiple Active Directories. This is really helpful if you need to extend your on-premises AD to the cloud, particularly if you're starting to investigate the hybrid SQL Server scenarios such as using Azure for a DR site with Availability Group replicas.

5. Subscription suspension no longer deletes virtual machines either.

This is another great set of updates. I'm truly impressed by the speed that these are appearing at.


Auto-delete Azure SQL Database Servers with no databases

In Windows Azure SQL Database, a database "server" is a logical concept that's used to keep details of connected databases. It does have a "master" database but it's not like the on-premises equivalent. It's pretty much a container for logins.

Generally there is no point provisioning a server that has no databases. Servers aren't charged separately, only the user databases are charged for.

The Azure team has now made a change that means that if you have a server that hasn't had any user databases within the last 90 days, it will be automatically deleted. It's important to be aware that this can happen. The only thing that would be lost would be any pre-configured logins. You would need to recreate them when you later decide to provision a user database.

New smaller memory-intensive VM size in Azure

Previously, when you selected a VM size in Azure, you had to choose a large size to get a bunch of memory.

Now a new A5 size has been provided and you can get 14GB of memory on a VM that only has two virtual cores, rather than only on the 8 core servers that were available before. The pricing is about 2/3 of the price of the 8 core version.

You can find details here:

This might be a good option for memory-intensive applications that aren't CPU-intensive.

TechEd Oz Session Now Online – Reminder about Azure benefits for MSDN

I previously posted about enabling your Azure benefits before the end of this month if you have an MSDN subscription. Doing so doesn't cost any more, and it adds a bunch of money for Azure credits into your account each month.

If you have an MSDN subscription and you haven't do it, don't put it off. Follow the link and do so (plus you might win an Aston Martin just for doing so): 

And if you're wondering about how to configure Azure VMs for SQL Server, my TechEd Oz session is now available on-demand from Channel9:


Source code control – SQL Server and Oracle

One of the things that I find very poorly done in most SQL Server sites that I visit is source code control for database objects.

You can connect SQL Server Management Studio with source code control systems, to make it easier to manage scripts, etc. One way of doing this is to configure an SCCI (source code control interface) provider. You can get the one that works with SSMS here:

Once you've installed that, you'll find an "Add to source control" option appearing when you create new script projects. If it doesn't seem to be enabled, see this article:

You'll also need a TFS (Team Foundation Services) server or an SVN server. A really good option now is the TFS Online offering which is also free for up to 5 users: 

Another option to consider, particularly if you work with other database engines as well are the 3rd party tools. I've previously mentioned the Red-Gate source code control tools. You'll find info on them here:

A key advantage of these is that they are pretty easy to use and work with a wider variety of source code control engines. As well as TFS and SVN, they work with Git, Mercurial, Vault, Perforce and others.

Today they have announced updated support for Oracle:

It works with SVN and TFS.

Either way, there are lots of offerings out there now. It's important that you start to investigate one of them if you haven't already done so.

Choosing between tabular and multidimensional models in Analysis Services

At TechEd Australia last week, I presented a number of sessions.

The first of these is now available online. It was a session on my thoughts on how you'd choose between staying with multidimensional models in SSAS or moving to the newer tabular models.



Azure is the quickest way to learn SQL Server 2014 and Windows Server 2012 R2

For the DayZero event at TechEd Australia last week, I presented a session on SQL Server 2014. Lots of people were keen to try SQL Server 2014 but said they don't have much time, or they don't have infrastructure to let them do it.

Either way, this is another example where Azure is really useful. You can spin up an Azure VM that has SQL Server 2014 CTP1 preinstalled on Windows Server. You can even choose a template that has Windows Server 2012 R2 if you want to also get exposure to that operating system. No doubt, an image with CTP2 will become available when that preview is ready.

Creating these VMs is really easy and takes only a few minutes and is the easiest way to learn to use these products.

There are free trials available within Azure. And as I mentioned in a previous post, if you have an MSDN subscription, you really should activate the Azure benefits, especially before the end of the month while they're giving away an Aston Martin to someone that does so.

Regardless, activating the benefits gives you a bunch of credit for use with Azure. That credit goes a long way because you now aren't charged for VMs that are stopped. (Note that isn't the same as shut down).

Details on activation and of the competition are here: