What is SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines? (Windows)

SQL Server on Azure virtual machines enables you to use full versions of SQL Server in the Cloud without having to manage any on-premises hardware. SQL Server VMs also simplify licensing costs when you pay as you go.

Azure virtual machines run in many different geographic regions around the world. They also offer a variety of machine sizes. The virtual machine image gallery allows you to create a SQL Server VM with the right version, edition, and operating system. This makes virtual machines a good option for a many different SQL Server workloads.

Automated updates

SQL Server Azure VMs can use Automated Patching to schedule a maintenance window for installing important windows and SQL Server updates automatically.

Automated backups

SQL Server Azure VMs can take advantage of Automated Backup, which regularly creates backups of your database to blob storage. You can also manually use this technique. For more information, see Use Azure Storage for SQL Server Backup and Restore.

High availability

If you require high availability, consider configuring SQL Server Availability Groups. This involves multiple SQL Server Azure VMs in a virtual network. You can configure your high availability solution manually, or you can use templates in the Azure portal for automatic configuration. For an overview of all high availability options, see High Availability and Disaster Recovery for SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines.

Performance

Azure virtual machines offer different machine sizes to meet various workload demands. SQL VMs also provide automated storage configuration, which is optimized for your performance requirements. For more information about configuring storage for SQL VMs, see Storage configuration for SQL Server VMs. To fine-tune performance, see the Performance best practices for SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines.

Get started with SQL VMs

To get started, choose a SQL Server virtual machine image with your required version, edition, and operating system. The following sections provide direct links to the Azure portal for the SQL Server virtual machine gallery images.

Tip

For more information about how to understand pricing for SQL images, see Pricing guidance for SQL Server Azure VMs.

Pay as you go

The following table provides a matrix of pay-as-you-go SQL Server images.

Version Operating System Edition
SQL Server 2017 Windows Server 2016 Enterprise, Standard, Web, Express, Developer
SQL Server 2016 SP1 Windows Server 2016 Enterprise, Standard, Web, Express, Developer
SQL Server 2014 SP2 Windows Server 2012 R2 Enterprise, Standard, Web, Express
SQL Server 2012 SP4 Windows Server 2012 R2 Enterprise, Standard, Web, Express
SQL Server 2008 R2 SP3 Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, Standard, Web, Express

To see the available Linux SQL Server virtual machine images, see Overview of SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines (Linux).

Bring your own license

You can also bring your own license (BYOL). In this scenario, you only pay for the VM without any additional charges for SQL Server licensing. Bringing your own license can save you money over time for continuous production workloads. For requirements to use this option, see Pricing guidance for SQL Server Azure VMs.

Version Operating system Edition
SQL Server 2017 Windows Server 2016 Enterprise BYOL, Standard BYOL
SQL Server 2016 SP1 Windows Server 2016 Enterprise BYOL, Standard BYOL
SQL Server 2014 SP2 Windows Server 2012 R2 Enterprise BYOL, Standard BYOL
SQL Server 2012 SP4 Windows Server 2012 R2 Enterprise BYOL, Standard BYOL

In the portal, these image names are prefixed with {BYOL}.

Connect to the VM

After creating your SQL Server VM, connect to it from applications or tools, such as SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). For instructions, see Connect to a SQL Server Virtual Machine on Azure.

Migrate your data

If you have an existing database, you'll want to move that to the newly provisioned SQL VM. For a list of migration options and guidance, see Migrating a Database to SQL Server on an Azure VM.

SQL VM image refresh policy

Azure only maintains one virtual machine image for each supported operating system, version, and edition combination. This means that over time images are refreshed, and older images are removed. For more information, see the Images section of the SQL Server VMs FAQ.

Customer experience improvement program (CEIP)

The Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) is enabled by default. This periodically sends reports to Microsoft to help improve SQL Server. There is no management task required with CEIP unless you want to disable it after provisioning. You can customize or disable the CEIP by connecting to the VM with remote desktop. Then run the SQL Server Error and Usage Reporting utility. Follow the instructions to disable reporting. For more information about data collection, see the SQL Server Privacy Statement.

Windows Virtual Machines

Storage

Networking

SQL

Next steps

Get started with SQL Server on Azure virtual machines:

Get answers to commonly asked questions about SQL VMs: