The first major announcement for SQL Database is a new premium tier level. P15 will allow up to 4,000 DTUs. The next-most-powerful, P11, is 1,750 DTUs, so this is a significant improvement. At a current price of $21.51 per hour, it’s a significant investment, but allows for much more throughput.
The second major announcement is the support for Azure AD authentication to SQL Database and SQL Data Warehouse. One of the primary pain points for SQL Database administrators has been the requirement to use SQL authentication. This is cumbersome, especially when managing a user across dev/QA/prod environments, and also because there is no mechanism for users to reset passwords. If you have Azure AD set up, or have Windows AD federated and synced, it’s easy to set it up for your SQL Databases and Data Warehouses!
Support for JSON functions is now available in SQL Database! There are several functions available, including OPENJSON, which transforms a JSON document into a flat table, and FOR JSON, which transforms a flat table into a structured JSON document. Click here to learn how to get started.
On the IaaS side of Azure, the most significant recent addition has been Azure DevTest Labs. The Labs allow you to create custom templates for virtual machines, and then set policies about how they can be used. Policies you can set include the VM sizes that can be used, the maximum VMs created per user, auto start time, and auto shutdown time. This is a great help to administrators who want users to be able to test features without breaking the bank!