AWS, Azure, Microsoft, SQL Azure

Introducing SQL Azure Premium

Microsoft recently previewed SQL Azure Premium instance (beta).  This is set up on a per-server basis, that is a server can host SQL Azure WEB, BUSINESS or PREMIUM (P1 or P2) instances.  A database type can be upgraded on the same server.  Important note from Microsoft site :”We do not provide any SLA for SQL Database Premium during preview.”

I am interested in your feedback on this offering – please comment below.

Also to be complete, I am including a link to Amazon Web Services RDS (which includes full SQL Server 2008 or 2012) SLA, of particular note is the ‘provisioned IOPS section of their SLA.

AWS, Azure, Cloud, Microsoft, SQL Azure, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012

AWS RDS SQL Server vs. SQL Azure Smackdown – Importing Data

This is first in a series of comparisons between Amazon Web Services RDS SQL Server and SQL Azure. It is useful for me to understand exactly which features and tools work with cloud-deployed instances of SQL Server. In this screencast I take a look at common methods to import data. These include backup/restore, DACPAC and other tools such as the SQL Azure Migration Wizard (available from CodePlex).

Do the tools work? How well? Watch the video and find out.

Microsoft, SQL Azure

Updated: SQL Azure web portal–does it work in Chrome?

The short answer would appear to be yes (after an update to the Silverlight installation that did require a browser restart). 

The Azure team had a number of announcements and releases today.  The most interesting of which for Azure in general is the support of Node.js.  Here’s a link to a 4 minute MSDN video demo.

There were also a number of interesting updates to SQL Azure.  These include the following:

1) Maximum database size now up from 50 GB to 150 GB

2) Price cap (for max size) at $ 499 US – was old cap for 50 GB

3) Federations – support creation in web management portal

4) Updated (Metro-style) management portal

Here’s a link to the SQL Azure announcements and a link to the Windows Azure announcements. 

Screen Shots

Here are some screen shots of the updated management portal.

First the ‘Overview’ screen – with clickable (Metro-style) tiles.


Next the Administration screen – it shows service usage.  Also you can create a new SQL Azure Federation by clicking the highlighted button (upper right).


Next is a query screen – as shown below you may note that you can now view both actual and estimated execution plans via GUI output in the web portal.  There is, however, still NO intellisense when you type in T-SQL queries.


Next is a nice addition – shown below is a dependency diagram.


Overall, this is a good release, adding some features that I will use.  What do you think, have you tried it out yet? 

Big Data, Data Science, noSQL, SQL Azure

Relational Cloud Storage is 50X More Expensive than NoSQL

In my new (post-Microsoft) career, I am looking forward to building cloud-based data solutions for customers around the world.  To that end, I decided to take a look at the ‘state of cloud data pricing’, so that I could supply some kind of pricing estimates to potential customers. 

You may be interested in what I found.

NoSQL Monthly Storage costs for 100 GB of data

There are two sides to the story.  First, the positive.  Unstructured, non-relational or NoSQL storage is remarkably cheap.  I took a look across all major vendors, and tried to hold 100 GB / storage and a monthly fee as constant.  Also I used 10GB/up and 100GB/down for usage.  For the vendors I looked at monthly pricing baselines (some had additional charges for PUT, GET, etc…) was from $9 to $24.  Below is a chart summarizing results.


Of course the only thing I am really measuring here is pure storage cost.  I did NOT take into account any SLAs around availability (or lack there of), ease of access via tools or APIs or actual performance of any of these services.  Also much to the probable consternation of the vendors, I ‘mixed’ both cloud storage intended for personal use (such as DropBox or Amazon CloudStorage) with cloud storage intended for business use (such as Microsoft Azure Tables or Amazon SimpleDB).  Also, of note is (from  Although I was able to set up a test account, pricing seems to be quotable only in terms of transactions and not in terms of storage space, so I couldn’t think of a way to include their offering in this comparison.

Relational Cloud Storage costs

Of course the full RDBS in the cloud services are a younger market, however, even I was startled at the dramatic difference in pricing.  I am fully aware of the advantages of RDBMS implementations (vs. NoSQL), having ‘evangelized’ SQL Azure for the past year when I was working as a Microsoft evangelist.  Those advantages include familiar tooling, programming models, transactional support, query tuning support and built-in high availability and are not insignificant.  However, the cost for 100 GB / month for cloud-based RDMS systems vs. NoSQL solutions is also significant – that cost is around 50x GREATER than for the same amount of non-relational storage.  Below is a comparison of the vendors who had pricing information that I could make sense of.


There were far fewer vendors in this field.  Google has a beta offering, hosting mySQL, but hasn’t announced pricing that I could find on their site.  You’ll note that I ‘rolled-up’ the Amazon offerings for mySQL or Oracle to around $ 600 /month as a baseline.  Actual inputs included many other options.  I’ll include screen shots at the end of this blog, so that you can see all of the input parameters I used.  I addition to the other offerings, also offers SQL Server on one of their EC2 instances.  One particularly difficult aspect of comparison for cloud-hosted RDBMS systems is that Amazon’s rate vary by storage, input/output, other factors AND by compute size (i.e. small, med, large, huge, etc…) whereas Microsoft prices by amount stored and in/out only.  Still, Amazon’s offerings appear to be around 1/2 the prices of Microsoft’s SQL Azure. Also of note is that the current size capacity for SQL Azure databases is 50 GB, so the pricing here reflects purchasing two instances for a total of 100 GB of storage between those two instances.

So taking the high-end of both RDBMS (Microsoft SQL Azure) and dividing by the high-end of NoSQL (Amazon S3) that is $1000/$24 or 41X more; on the low-end we have mySQL on Amazon and personal CloudStorage on Amazon or $600/$9 or 67X more, adding 41+67 = 108, averaging around 50X greater.

I will also say that I did these comparisons as fairly as I could, however it was quite difficult to compare vendor-to-vendor as the service offerings differ.  To that end, as mentioned, I will include screen shots from the vendor’s own websites at the end of this blog post so that you can see exactly how I did these comparisons.


Clearly moving data to the cloud has many elements of unpredictability.  Based on my quick survey, it seems obvious that anyone building a cloud-data solution would want to consider both non-relational storage for the price difference alone. 

Of course, when data is involved there are many other factors – these include SLAs, actual uptime, performance, method of querying, ability to performance tune (i.e. index), security, backup/restore, etc….  As I move back into production work, I’ll use this blog to document my journey into the cloud with data – I’ll certainly be investing these other aspects.

I am also wondering what your experience has been?  Do you have production data in the cloud?  How much has it really cost?

Reference Materials and Screen Shots of Vendor Pricing Calculators

Amazon –






DropBox –


GoGrid –

Google –



Microsoft  – 
Calculator –


RackSpace  –

Rackspace –


Agile, SQL Azure, SQL Server 2008, Technical Conference

TechEd Africa October 2011

Llewellyn and I are giving three presentations here in Durban.  I’ll link the slides and demo code below.

1) SQL Azure Tools

2) SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 for Developers

Here’s a link to the T-SQL demos from this talk – here.

3) Test-Driven Development using Visual Studio 2010

Also you may enjoy the Approval Tests presentation (we use the Approval Tests library during the TDD talk)