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New SQL Server 2022 hybrid capabilities with Azure Arc

  • February 13, 2023
  • 14 min read
Cloud and Virtualization Architect. Brandon has over 20 years of experience across multiple sectors. He is responsible for the creative and technical content direction at
Cloud and Virtualization Architect. Brandon has over 20 years of experience across multiple sectors. He is responsible for the creative and technical content direction at

Many great announcements have come out of Microsoft Ignite 2022. Microsoft has continued the trend of cloud-enabling traditional on-premises technologies and expanded cloud offerings to hybridize most of the workloads existing on-premises. Microsoft SQL Server is no exception. In conjunction with SQL Server 2022, Microsoft has integrated many Azure advancements and multi-cloud capabilities into the latest SQL Server 2022 release. Additionally, with Microsoft Azure Arc, Microsoft is further extending the capabilities of SQL Server.

What is Azure Arc?

Microsoft Azure Arc is redefining what customers can do with on-premises technologies and helping close the gap between on-premises and cloud with a hybrid-cloud approach. It blurs the line between where on-premises technologies end and cloud environments begin.

What is Azure Arc? Azure Arc is the culmination of Microsoft’s vision to bridge on-premise with Azure. Azure Arc brings the Azure control plan, known as Azure Resource Manager, to on-premises environments. When resources are Arc-enabled, Azure Resource Manager brings the resource into the purview of Azure management, configuration, governance, compliance, and policies.

Note the following benefits noted by Microsoft related to Azure Arc:

  • Manage and monitor Kubernetes workloads consistently
  • You can take advantage of Azure capabilities, including security, compliance, and monitoring
  • Use the same APIs and tooling on-premises, in multiple clouds, and in edge environments with Kubernetes
  • Innovate with GitOps and policy-driven deployment and configuration across environments
  • More effectively use tools like GitHub, Terraform, and Visual Studio
  • Run Azure services on your on-premises equipment with the Azure hybrid benefit and Azure Stack HCI with no extra cost for Windows Server Software Assurance or CSP subscription customers

In addition to extending these benefits to on-premises Windows installations, you can extend the benefits of Azure Arc to data services running in Microsoft SQL Server.

SQL Server 2022 – more cloud features

SQL Server 2022 is the culmination of 30 years of SQL Server versions that is now the most capable and fully featured SQL Server version to date. It also is the most cloud-enabled SQL Server released, thanks to Azure Arc.

With Azure Arc, you can manage SQL Server instances under the same management plane, no matter where these are located. In addition, with Azure Arc-enabled SQL Server, customers get many additional benefits, including management, governance, and security.

Note the following excellent features with SQL Server 2022 related to Azure capabilities:

  • Azure Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • Microsoft Defender for Cloud for SQL Server
  • Integration with Microsoft Purview
  • Better management, licensing visibility, SQL Best practices

Azure Single Sign-On (SSO)

With the Azure Single Sign-On (SSO), customers get the benefits of Azure Active Directory for secure identities in the environment. In addition, it allows leveraging the great security features already built into Azure Active Directory for authentication to SQL Server.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud for SQL Server

With the Microsoft Defender for Cloud for SQL Server, customers benefit from a significantly enhanced security posture for their SQL environment, regardless of location, thanks to Azure Arc. With Microsoft Defender, customers get continuous scans of their SQL Servers to identify vulnerabilities or active attacks.

Integration with Microsoft Purview

In addition to security concerns, organizations worldwide are concerned with compliance concerns and governance. The Microsoft Purview solution helps customers handle compliance and data governance. Customers benefit from Microsoft Purview by using the Azure Arc-enabled SQL Servers solution, providing insights and governance.

Cloud billing for SQL Server

The new direction for billing in the era of cloud technologies and solutions has been an operational expense (OpEx) model instead of the traditional (CapEx) model for IT infrastructure. Cloud technologies are based on consumption rather than perpetual licensing and hardware costs. This way, organizations can easily spend what they need as needed rather than going “all in” from the start.

SQL Server, and especially SQL Server Enterprise, has been a costly license to buy for companies traditionally licensing their SQL Server instances. However, as even on-premises applications and solutions continue to align more with cloud technologies, Microsoft is now offering a new consumption-based cloud billing model for SQL Server customers. A pay-as-you-go billing model will allow organizations to leverage licensing and costs based on what is needed.

As a note, Microsoft is keeping the perpetual SQL Server license model around for now. Therefore, organizations can decide if they want to transition to the new consumption-based model or keep with the perpetual licensing they have historically used, giving them flexibility.

Many companies will find the new consumption-based model is desirable and more cost-efficient. Instead of paying the upfront cost for SQL Server licensing, businesses only pay for what is used. As you can imagine, this is a great model for very “spikey” traffic and usage.

Again, this new billing model relies on Azure Arc and is an extension of the features and capabilities of Azure Arc for SQL Server.

Dependent on the version of SQL Server

One of the caveats with the Azure features is it is dependent on the version of SQL Server 2022 you are running. Also, as you note in the Microsoft graphic below, the Azure features are not included in Express, Express with Advanced Services, or Web editions. It is only included in the Standard and Enterprise edition.

One thing to note with the Azure features is Microsoft is not limiting Azure features between Enterprise and Standard editions. We are seeing a shift from the mindset that Azure features are premium features found only in the top-tier license and are instead baked into both the mid and top-tier licensing.

Comparing the versions of Microsoft SQL Server 2022 featuresComparing the versions of Microsoft SQL Server 2022 features

Available for older versions of SQL Server soon

Interestingly, there is no other way to use the pay-as-you-go consumption-based model without the Azure Arc enablement of your SQL Server. So, this is a requirement. However, Microsoft has made this easier with the default installation of SQL Server 2022, prompting admins if they want to Arc-enable their SQL Server 2022 installation.

The writing is on the wall for migrating even legacy versions of SQL Server over to this new billing capability using Azure Arc. In their official blog post, Microsoft mentions SQL Server versions of 2014 and higher that are Arc-enabled will be able to switch to the consumption-based model.

It is interesting to see the new option when installing SQL Server 2022. In the installation wizard, you will see the new option listed below:

  • Use pay-as-you-go billing through Microsoft Azure
  • You will see the note regarding the requirement for Azure: Warning: To enable this option, you must have an active Azure subscription that you will be required to provide along with a resource group, Azure region, and tenant ID later in setup.

Installing SQL Server 2022 option for pay as you goInstalling SQL Server 2022 option for pay as you go

SQL Server hybrid capabilities

What is Azure Arc? Azure Arc is the new solution from Microsoft, allowing the extension of Azure Resource Manager down to on-premises environments. With Azure Arc

What new features are in SQL Server 2022 related to hybrid? With the Azure Arc-enabled features, you can use Microsoft Defender for Cloud for SQL Server, Microsoft Purview, Azure Single Sign-On (SSO), and other features, such as pay-as-you-go billing.

What are the requirements for the new pay-as-you-go pricing? First, the SQL Server 2022 host must be Azure Arc-enabled to receive the pay-as-you-go functionality for pricing with SQL Server 2022.

Wrapping up

Microsoft continues to extend the features and capabilities of on-premises technologies with Azure Arc-enabled workloads. With the new versions of SQL Server, Microsoft allows the pay-as-you-go pricing when SQL Server is Arc-enabled. It also sounds like Microsoft will retroactively add this pay-as-you-go pricing to older versions of Microsoft SQL Server from 2014 and above. It will be a great opportunity for companies to transition to an operational model instead of the historically significant CapEx spend for SQL Server licensing and will provide more efficient cost options.

Hey! Found Brandon’s insights useful? Looking for a cost-effective, high-performance, and easy-to-use hyperconverged platform?
Taras Shved
Taras Shved StarWind HCI Appliance Product Manager
Look no further! StarWind HCI Appliance (HCA) is a plug-and-play solution that combines compute, storage, networking, and virtualization software into a single easy-to-use hyperconverged platform. It's designed to significantly trim your IT costs and save valuable time. Interested in learning more? Book your StarWind HCA demo now to see it in action!