Getting Started With Cloud Databases

Data technologies have never been hotter whether it’s traditional relational databases, NoSQL databases, or Big Data technologies. Cloud has never been hotter either, and it’s the perfect environment to get familiar with old and new technologies – in this guide I look at the major cloud players, and look at what options are available to get started with cloud databases.

Microsoft Azure

There are several ways to get started with Microsoft Azure’s cloud database offerings – try the one month trial from Azure directly; get Azure benefits with Visual Studio Professional with MSDN; get twelve months of Azure benefits with the free Visual Studio Dev Essentials either as software or a cloud version; or pay up!

One thing to watch for, from my experience using previous benefits, is to be careful when using non-Microsoft products which are not open source. My subscription was suspended during one billing cycle because I’d built an Oracle VM, and my MSDN credits could not be used for that product. I had to raise a case with Microsoft to get the issue resolved.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon offer a free product offering called AWS Free Tier which allows you to do anything in the cloud for free for 12 months, though usage limits obviously apply!

Google Cloud Platform

Google offer a USD 300 60 day trial, though – unlike Azure or AWS – you won’t be able to do anything with Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle database here. Google Cloud SQL isMySQL versions 5.5 and 5.6 behind the scenes. The product offering is up to 104GB of RAM and 10TB of data storage – so fairly significant!

Oracle Cloud

Oracle do offer their databases in the cloud, or as Database As A Service (DBAAS), but I wasn’t able to find any trials or benefits. And when I stumbled across the monthly cost of Exadata in the cloud, I got more than a little scared!

Kalen Delaney is coming back to SQLBits

Kalen Delaney is coming back to SQLBits XV in May in Liverpool – Kalen’s session will be on the thursday, and is called SQL Server Query Plans – Reuse or Recompile. In Kalen’s words, it will cover the plan cache, how and when SQL Server decides whether to reuse or recompile a plan, and how to influence SQL Server’s choice.

I saw Kalen give a session in 2015 in London at the Excel conference centre – she’s a great speaker, obviously knows her stuff, and is well worth going to see.

SQL Server Licensing

SQL Server licensing isn’t straightforward, and it certainly isn’t as easy as it used to be.  In days gone by, we’d buy a licence for each physical socket no matter how many cores there were, and we’d get High Availability (HA) and Disaster Recovery (DR) generally for free. The release of SQL Server 2012 heralded the introduction of core-based licensing, and tweaks have continued to be made since then – almost always to Microsoft’s advantage.

In the run up to the release of SQL Server 2012, I spent a morning on a SQL Server licensing workshop which was arranged by Microsoft, but was presented by a third party. It was excellent, so I was delighted when a mail came from Microsoft Events offering a webinar on SQL Server licensing in February and March.

I attended the February offering, which was presented by Vicky Lea. Vicky ran through how licensing had changed from SQL Server 2008 R2 to SQL Server 2012, and the methodology for working out your licensing requirements.  Vicky covered the special cases of Virtualisation, Licence Mobility, Software Assurance, the changes to High Availability licensing when SQL Server 2014 was released,  the downgrade and down-edition rights that come with the product licence, and Step Ups which is one of the Software Assurance benefits.