Microsoft updates cloud-based SQL Server to simplify management

The updates are aimed at companies that choose to run SQL Server on a virtual machine on Azure

Microsoft has added automated backup and patching for SQL Server databases running in virtual machines on its Azure cloud, in a bid to simplify management and improve reliability.

As enterprises move more and larger IT systems to the cloud, advanced management functionality is becoming increasingly important to keep systems up and costs down. And step by step, service providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are adding new features to streamline management processes.

The latest improvements from Microsoft are aimed at keeping SQL Server backed up and secure in a more convenient way when running the database in virtual machines on Azure.

Organizations that want to run SQL Server on Microsoft's cloud can either buy the database as a service or install it on a virtual machine that's then deployed on Azure.

Choosing the latter option lets organizations migrate existing applications to the cloud with minimal changes and build more customized systems. But it also means they have to manage the databases themselves.

Using the automated backup feature, administrators can configure a scheduled backup on SQL Server 2014 Enterprise. With a few clicks in the Azure portal, they can control the retention period, the storage account for the backup, and the security policies of the database.

The automated patching allows administrators to define the maintenance window directly from the Azure portal. The SQL Server infrastructure-as-a-service agent will configure Windows running on the virtual machine with the preferred maintenance settings, including the day for maintenance, the start time of the window and the proposed duration.

Many customers have told Microsoft that they would like to move their patching schedules off business hours. This feature lets them do exactly that, the company said in a blog post on Thursday.

Last year Microsoft published an article that described the different options for running SQL Server on Azure, including when virtual machines are preferable over the service and vice versa.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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