On July 8, 2013, at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Houston, Texas, Satya Nadella, Server and Tools President announced a new Premium service for Windows Azure SQL Database that delivers more predictable performance for business-critical applications. This new Premium service further strengthens the data platform vision by giving you more flexibility and choice across on-premises and cloud for your business-class applications.

Today, we’re excited to announce that the limited preview is now live! SQL Database customers with account administrator rights can immediately request an invitation to this preview by visiting the Windows Azure Preview Features page.

The Premium preview for Windows Azure SQL Database will help deliver more powerful and predictable performance for cloud applications by dedicating a fixed amount of reserved capacity for a database including its built-in secondary replicas. This capability will help you raise the bar on the types of modern business applications you bring to the cloud. Reserved capacity is ideal for cloud-based applications with the following requirements:

  • High Peak Load – An application that requires a lot of CPU, Memory, or IO to complete its operations. For example, if a database operation is known to consume several CPU cores for an extended period of time, it is a candidate for using a Premium database.
  • Many Concurrent Requests – Some database applications service many concurrent requests. The normal Web and Business Editions in SQL Database have a limit of 180 concurrent requests. Applications requiring more connections should use a Premium database with an appropriate reservation size to handle the maximum number of needed requests.
  • Predictable Latency – Some applications need to guarantee a response from the database in minimal time. If a given stored procedure is called as part of a broader customer operation, there might be a requirement to return from that call in no more than 20 milliseconds 99% of the time. This kind of application will benefit from a Premium database to make sure that computing power is available.

To help you best assess the performance needs of your application and determine if your application might need reserved capacity, our Customer Advisory Team has put together detailed guidance. Read the Guidance for Windows Azure SQL Database premium whitepaper for tips on how to continually tune your PaaS application for optimal performance and how to know if your application might need reserved capacity. Additionally, our engineers have put together a thorough resource, Managing Premium Databases, on how to setup, use and manage your new premium database once you are accepted into the Premium preview and quota is approved.

Requesting an invitation to the reserved capacity preview requires two steps:

  1. Visit the Preview Features page to request access to the Premium preview program. Initial acceptance requires customers have active, paid Windows Azure subscriptions and account administrator responsibility.
  2. Once your subscription has been activated for the preview program, request a Premium database quota from either the server dashboard or server quickstart in the SQL Databases extension of the Windows Azure Management Portal.

For a closer look at signing up for the Premium preview, please review the short tutorial page, Sign up for Premium preview for Windows Azure SQL Database.

Premium databases are billed daily based on the reservation size, at 50 percent of the general availability price for the duration of the preview (see table below).

Initially, we will offer two reservation sizes: P1 and P2. P1 offers better performance predictability than the SQL Database Web and Business editions, and P2 offers roughly twice the performance of P1 and is suitable for applications with greater peaks and sustained workload demands. Premium database are billed based on the Premium database reservation size and storage volume of the database.

Premium Database:

  Premium DB size

  Preview price

  GA price

  P1
  (1 core, 8GB RAM)

  $15/day
  (~$465/month)

  $30/day
   (~930/month)

  P2
   (2 cores, 16GB RAM)

  $30/day
  (~$930/month)

  $60/day
   ~1860/month)

Storage: $0.095 per GB per month (prorated daily)

For more details on Premium for SQL Database pricing, please visit the Windows Azure SQL Database pricing page.

We’re excited to see how the new Premium service for SQL Database helps you drive even greater innovation and raise the bar on the types of modern business applications you bring to the cloud. Sign up today!