What’s New for SQL Server in Azure – February 2016

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SQL Server Express Images

There is a new image in the gallery – SQL Server Express edition. SQL Server Express is great for development and testing environments, or very small, low-transaction databases. . That’s due to the limits – 1 GB of memory and 10 GB per database. The benefit of using Express is that you won’t pay for the SQL Server licensing – only the virtual machine compute. Currently, three versions are available:

SQL Server 2008 R2 SP3 on Windows Server 2008 R2

SQL Server 2012 SP2 on Windows Server 2012

SQL Server 2014 SP1 on Windows Server 2012 R2

To get started, in the Portal search for “SQL Server Express”, and choose your image.

AzurePortalSQLExpress.png

Read the official announcement from Microsoft at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/announcing-sql-server-express-images-in-the-azure-gallery/.

AlwaysOn Availability Groups

The team has also made improvements to the “SQL Server AlwaysOn cluster” image. Don’t be fooled - this doesn’t create a SQL Server Failover Cluster Instance (as I thought at first). It creates two SQL Server vms in a Windows Server Failover Cluster with a file share witness, and allows you to create Availability Groups within those. The image also creates two domain controllers.

The improvements that have been made include the ability to choose SQL Server 2012 or 2014, support for an internal load balancer, the ability to configure the storage for workload, and automated patching.

When creating the image, you enter more information than you would during a typical SQL Server image setup. You provide domain information such as the root domain name, an Availability Group name and listener name, the domain controller and file share witness machine sizes, and the SQL Server service account name and password. Before deploying an image, look at all of the information you need to provide and make sure you are prepared.

Read more about the improvements at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/sql-server-alwayson-cluster-template-updated-with-internal-listeners-and-optimized-performance/.

 

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