Getting Started Running SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machine (Retired)

Getting Started Running SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machine (Retired)

This wiki has been retired.  For the latest information on running SQL Server on Windows Azure Virtual machine, see this link:

If you know how to install and configure SQL Server, and you understand Hyper-V virtualization technology, getting started is a snap! Here's a quick guide you can use to get started.

Before You Begin

There are a few key things you should know about the Windows Azure Virtual Machine preview before you use it:

  • SQL Server and Virtualization: Many large organizations have already virtualized many of their SQL Server workloads in their on-premise data centers, yet some hard-core SQL Server stalwarts are still skeptical about performance.  Just for the record, SQL Server virtualization is fully supported and it is here to stay.  Review this Support Statement for more details.  Now, with Windows Azure Virtual Machine, you can migrate your virtualized SQL Server workloads to the public cloud.  Hyper-V 3.0 scalability advancements in Windows Server 2012 increases the number of SQL Server workloads that can be virtualized. If you are new to virtualization and SQL Server, check out the Consolidating Databases Using Virtualization Planning Guide.
  • Virtual Machine Preview SLA: There is no guaranteed SLA for the virtual machine preview, so we do not recommend that you run production applications on it. Make sure you keep a backup of your virtual machines and critical data. See Terms of Use for Windows Azure Preview Features for more details.  We are confident that the SLA for Windows Azure Virtual Machine will be very competitive with other public cloud virtualization offerings.
  • SQL Version Support: We will support SQL Server 2012, 2008 R2 and 2008 on Windows Azure Virtual Machine. Earlier editions are not supported. Review this Support Statement for more details.
  • SQL Feature Support: Most SQL Server features are supported on Windows Azure Virtual Machine with some exceptions. SQL Server Failover Clustering is not supported.  Distributed technologies like Database Mirroring, AlwaysOn Availability Groups, Replication, Log Shipping and Service Broker are supported within a single Azure data center, but distributed deployments of these technologies that span multiple Azure data centers are not currently supported.  AlwaysOn Availability Groups are currently supported without Listeners (i.e. an Availability Group that has one or more replicas on Windows Azure VMs can't have a Listener). Review the Support Statement for more details.  Also, check out the High Availability Best Practices.
  • SQL Performance: We aren't publishing any benchmark numbers yet. We are confident that Windows Azure Virtual Machine will perform very well in comparison to other public cloud virtualization offerings, but individual results may vary. Check out this Performance Guidelines Technical Note for more details.  Want to run your own performance test?  Check out Predeployment I/O Best Practices.
  • Using Stock Images: The fastest way to deploy a new Windows Azure VM is to use a stock image.  The preview includes an image with Windows Server 2008 R2 / SQL Server 2012 evaluation edition. More stock images will come later. When the virtual machine service is generally available, there will be hourly charges associated with using a SQL Server stock image. Check out Pricing Details for more information. Once you digest these numbers, you should be aware of a key point: we will offer the same per-hour price whether deploying 1, 2, or 4 cores. That means if you want to compare licensing costs for hosters who use SPLA licensing with Windows Azure per-hour costs, you need to compare a 4-core server price in Windows Azure and SPLA. The SQL Server 2012 Licensing Data Sheet & FAQ is also a great resource.
    Warning: Be careful if you have deployed a stock image based upon SQL Server Evaluation Edition.  Your SQL Server instance will eventually expire and become unusable.  See this blog post to determine how much time you have before your SQL Server instance expires and take the appropriate steps to protect your data.  See this documentation to move your data to a different VM prior to expiration.  See this blog post to upgrade an expired SQL Server instance to a paid edition if you are stuck. 
  • Using Your Own Virtual Machines: Customers who have Microsoft License Mobility through Software assurance, can also build their own Hyper-V VHDs containing SQL Server (any edition) that they purchased through Volume licensing agreement and upload them to their Windows Azure Virtual Machine account. The detailed step-by-step instructions can be found here.  From a licensing standpoint, you will need the same SKU and number of licenses you needed on-premise to run that workload in Windows Azure. For instance, if you use SE (or EE) core-based license on-premises, with Software Assurance you can move those SE (or EE) core licenses to Windows Azure. A minimum of 4 core licenses per Virtual Machine applies. Please note that you will have to wait for 90 days if you choose to reassign your license back to a server on-premise.
  • Free / Limited Windows Azure Subscriptions: If you are using a limited Windows Azure subscription (free, MSDN, etc.), use of the virtual machine preview is subject to the limits of your subscription. You may want to consider upgrading your subscription to ensure you have enough capacity to test your SQL Server workloads.
  • Paid Windows Azure Subscriptions: If you are using a paid subscription, you will incur transaction, compute and storage charges when using the virtual machine preview. There is a discount applied to compute charges associated with virtual machine usage during the preview. View these Pricing Details for more information. Check out this handy Virtual Machine Pricing Calculator to get an estimate of your costs.

Accessing the Preview Portal

The first thing you need to do is switch from the old Windows Azure Management Portal to the new Preview Portal. Just log into the Windows Azure Management Portal and look for the Visit Preview Portal link at the bottom of the screen:

Switching Back to the Old Portal

Need to switch back to the old portal? No problem just hover over the Preview area at the top of the screen and select "Take me to the previous portal".

Sign Up for the Preview Program

You won't have the ability to use virtual machines until you sign up for the preview program. It's easy to sign up, just click on the New region in the lower left corner of the screen, hover over the disabled virtual machine icon, and click the preview program link.

At this point you can either create a new account or sign in with an existing account if you already have a subscription. Once you have an active subscription, you'll want to click on the Account > Preview Features link where you will see the option to sign up for the Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks preview by clicking on Try It Now

Next you will be asked to choose the subscription you want to use with the preview and asked to review the Preview Terms of Use and Privacy Statement then click Confirm.

If everything goes well you should eventually see this:

Now you should be ready to rock!  The Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks icons should be active on your portal screen as shown below:

Follow the Tutorials

Now you are ready to create some SQL Server virtual machines! Check out the tutorial Provisioning a SQL Server Virtual Machine on Windows Azure. This walks through how to provision a stock image. For guidance on how to upload your own image, see the tutoral Creating and Uploading a Virtual Hard Drive that Contains the Windows Server Operating System. Don't forget to check out Best Practices for Running SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machine (en-US) first before you upload a VM.

The SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machine offering provides an easy migration path for existing SQL Server applications. The Migrating with SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machines article lists the migration steps that you can follow while migrating your database and data to SQL Server in a Windows Azure Virtual Machine. This article also provides information on when to choose SQL Server in VM and Windows Azure SQL Database (SQL Database).

Return to SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machine Early Adoption Cook Book (en-US)

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