Microsoft slashes Azure SQL database-as-a-service prices by half

Microsoft will reduce the prices of its Azure SQL Database – a relational database as a service – from November onwards

Microsoft will reduce the prices of its Azure SQL Database – a relational database as a service (DaaS) – from November onwards. 

The updated pricing, which is 50% lower, will come two months after Microsoft releases new service tiers to the database service, adds hourly billing features and improves its service level agreements (SLAs) from 99.9% to 99.99% availability.

In April 2014, Microsoft said it was adding basic and standard service tiers – alongside its premium tier – to its Azure SQL Database offering, to better address users’ flexibility needs. The new tiers, which have been under preview since, will be made generally available from September onwards.

While the basic tier is designed for applications with a light transactional workload, the standard tier is suited to cloud-designed business applications, as it includes business continuity features. The premium tier is aimed at mission-critical databases, offering the highest performance levels for the Microsoft Azure SQL Database and access to advanced business continuity features.

Final pricing for the standard and premium tiers will reflect up to 50% savings from previously published pricing, Eron Kelly, product marketing general manager for SQL server product management at Microsoft, said on the company blog. 

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“Updated pricing will help more customers benefit from higher performance and greater business continuity,” he said.

Azure SQL Database will also move to hourly billing for the new service tiers, giving users greater flexibility to shift between service tiers and performance levels, based on demand patterns.

As customers move more business-critical workloads to the cloud, high availability is critical. The new service tiers for Azure SQL Database will have an enhanced 99.99% availability SLA.

Other added features include auditing, as well as standard geo-replication and geo-restore services. The new tiers also offer wider business continuity features and larger database sizes of up to 500GB, Microsoft has announced.

As part of the standard service tier, Microsoft will offer an s-zero (S0) performance level. “This lower-cost entry point will enable more customers to benefit from the features in the standard tier,” said Kelly. 

“Performance levels provide a defined level of throughput that can be easily dialed up or down, based on performance demands.”

Microsoft is also looking to add features to the service tiers that will allow users with a large number of databases – and with variable performance demands – to have the flexibility to share performance resources across these databases. This is rather than managing resources for databases individually, Kelly added.

Microsoft will retire the two existing tiers – web and business – in September 2015, a year after the general availability of the new tiers.

Azure SQL DaaS customers include easyJet, Lufthansa, 3M, Harper Collins and Samsung.

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