Azure SQL Database For Your First Database

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This is post 8 supporting  Tim Ford’s (b|t) initiative on #iwanttohelp, #entrylevel. Read about it here.

In post #6, I talked about Azure SQL Database as one of the choices you have when you’re picking the type of SQL Server instance you want to run. I want to expand on why you should be considering moving into Azure SQL Database at the start of your career and some of the important differences you’ll have to be aware of as you get going.

Since you are right at the start of your career, you may as well plan on maximizing the life of the knowledge and skills you’re building. By this, I mean spend your time learning the newest and most advanced software rather than the old approach. Is there still work for people who only know SQL Server 2000? Sure. However, if you’re looking at the future, I strongly advocate for going with online, cloud-based systems. This is because, more and more, you’re going to be working with online, connected, applications. If the app is in the cloud, so should the data be. Azure and the technologies within it are absolutely the cutting edge today. Spending your limited learning time on this technology is an investment in your future.

The important point to remember is that when you start to look at something like Azure SQL Database is that, superficial resemblance aside, it’s not actually SQL Server. Oh yeah, it is. Those of us who have been teaching and supporting it for years emphasize the similarities. You know how to create a table in SQL Server? Great, same syntax in Azure SQL Database. Same thing for so much of the behavior of Azure SQL Database. However, at it’s core, Azure SQL Database is not the same as SQL Server. It’s a platform as a service offering. This means you must change the way you think about what you’re going to implement on it and how you’re going to implement it.

Take one example, backups. Since Azure SQL Database is a managed service, you don’t have access to the same type of functionality for backups as you do for regular SQL Server. That’s not to say that you can’t get backups. First, Microsoft itself has backups running on your databases for you. You have the capabilities for a point in time recovery build into the service directly. You can also ensure protection of your databases through geo-replication. Further, if you really do want to do a backup for some reason, you can. It’s not through the traditional BACKUP DATABASE command, but it’s still a fully-recoverable copy of your data and structure through the BACPAC (just make sure you create a copy of your database first).  This does mean that you can’t backup your Azure SQL Database through traditional means and then run a RESTORE command locally, but this isn’t how you should be working with Azure SQL Database anyway. Remember, it’s a platform as a service and is therefore not the same. This is just one example of several in how you have to think about Azure SQL Database differently.

Assume that some of your assumptions may have to be questioned as you move into this new space. It does require a modification in your approach, but one that, as someone just starting your career, you’re well positioned to make.


OK, fine, but what do you think?