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An easier way to set up SQL Server on an Azure virtual machine

Microsoft offers a simpler way to configure SQL Server on an Azure virtual machine. Added automation should help speed up the connecting and provisioning process.

Microsoft has a new, simplified method for configuring SQL Server on a Microsoft Azure virtual machine. The simpler setup procedure will allow users to configure SQL Server on Microsoft Azure without the aid of a database administrator.

"The new wizard for building and configuring a new virtual machine with SQL Server 2014 is very well put together," said Denny Cherry, founder and principal consultant for Denny Cherry and Associates Consulting. "It helps solve a lot of the complexity of building a new SQL Server, specifically around how you need to configure the storage in order to get a high-performing SQL Server VM."

Joseph D'Antoni, principal consultant at Denny Cherry and Associates Consulting, said that one of the major challenges with Azure was allocating storage. For instance, he said, to configure SQL Server on an Azure VM, you needed to allocate disks manually to get the needed amount of IOPS. This meant you had to know exactly what your storage application needs were for optimal performance, and many people were "kind of guessing," D'Antoni said. With the new wizard, all you have to do is enter the required number of IOPS and storage is allocated automatically.

Automating SQL Server setup for an Azure VM means that no longer does everything have to be done manually: Connectivity, performance, security and storage are configured automatically during setup. "I think it does simplify what was a pretty complex process," D'Antoni said.

You can now use the Internet to set up SQL Server connectivity and enable SQL Server authentication through the Azure Web portal. Previously, connecting SQL Server to an Azure VM via the Internet required a multistep process using SQL Server Management Studio. The new automated configuration process lets you pick whether to expand connectivity to the whole Azure virtual network or to connect only within the individual VM.

The new process for configuring SQL Server on an Azure virtual machine also includes automated patching and automated backup. The automated patching allows you pick a time when you want all your patches to occur. Users can schedule patches to minimize the impact they'll have on the workload.  Automated backup allows you to specify how long to keep backups.

"I think that these are a great enhancement on the old process of having to know how to configure these components manually within the VM," Cherry said, "because these configurations can get tricky to configure."

D'Antoni added that this innovation is going to affect smaller organizations the most, because it means that they won't need an expert to move SQL Server onto an Azure virtual machine. "[The simplified configuration] gives the power to someone who is deploying a VM when they would have needed an administrator or a DBA before. To that extent, it's kind of a big deal."

Next Steps

Microsoft improved Azure's backup and recovery capabilities

SQL Server 2016 announced as a "cloud-first" database

Virtualize SQL Server without Azure using DxEnterprise by DH2i

Dig Deeper on Microsoft SQL Server Consolidation and Virtualization

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What other processes would you most like to see Microsoft simplify?
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Personally I would like to see easier connections to other data sources like a DB2 data base on an IBM i-series.. The slight differences in data can be a pain to work with at times.
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