2022 – a year of unparalleled innovation in Azure SQL Managed Instance
Published Nov 16 2022 08:04 AM 6,629 Views

[Edit 11/21/2023 - Learn about SQL MI updates in 2023 here: https://aka.ms/sqlminov23]


Learn about Azure SQL Managed Instance announcements at PASS Data Community 2022 which are closing an amazing year of continuous product innovation!


Azure SQL Managed Instance (SQL MI) is the optimal cloud destination for modernizing your SQL estates, combining the best of SQL Server features with all the benefits of a fully managed service.

It offers the lowest barrier of entry along with the highest outcome of modernization:

  1. during migration, when benefits are instantly visible by switching databases to “auto-pilot.”
  2. after migration, through close integration with other Azure services, cutting-edge SQL Server features available in an “evergreen” deployment model and continuous price-performance improvements offered with the latest and certified hardware.

Azure SQL Managed Instance has been continuously improved based on customer feedback, aiming to meet critical requirements of organizations migrating and modernizing their applications in Azure. 2022 has been exceptional in that regard. We would like to thank you for all great feedback so far and to encourage you to keep sharing new product suggestions in SQL Managed Instance Feedback Forum.


Announcements earlier this year

Prior to PASS Data Community Summit, we announced a considerable number of features, significantly extending service capabilities in terms of performance, scale, and potential for application modernization upon migration to Azure. All these features have reached the general availability stage earlier this year.




Scenarios enabled

Maintenance Window

Increased predictability and reduced impact of regular service maintenance (upgrades).

Premium series hardware for General Purpose and Business Critical service tiers

Workloads requiring increased CPU performance and memory per vCore (7GB) compared to Standard series.

Premium series memory -optimized hardware for General Purpose and Business Critical service tiers

Workloads with very high memory to vCore requirements (up to 13.6 GB/vCore supported).

Business Critical service tier up to 16 TB storage

SQL workloads in 16 TB range, in need for the lowest available storage latency (1ms), overly sensitive to failovers.

TempDB configuration customization

Flexible performance tuning options for workloads dependent on TempDB.

Windows Authentication for AAD Principals

Modernization of legacy apps, which are unable to adopt AAD authentication protocol without expensive changes.

Data Virtualization with ADLS

Exploratory data analysis of data sets stored in the most common file formats.

Creating relational abstraction on top of your raw data without loading (and transforming) it in database.

Archiving cold data to Azure Data Lake Storage, keeping it still within the reach of interactive queries and joins.

Geo-zone redundant backup storage option

Maximum redundancy for backups, providing best business continuity.

Automated key rotation for TDE with customer-managed keys

Improved security for encrypted data.


Our performance innovations led to Azure SQL Managed Instance's recognition as a price-performance leader in the database-as-a-service market. Principled Technologies, an independent research firm, published a study where they benchmarked SQL Managed Instance and SQL Server on Amazon Web Services (AWS) RDS across three different workloads. SQL Managed Instance emerged as the leader across each of these workloads, with up to five times faster performance while costing up to 93 percent less than AWS RDS. [1]


Principal Technologies.png


What is coming at PASS Data Community Summit

The above-mentioned features were a nice prelude into the rich set of announcements that are landing for PASS Data Community Summit this year.

At this conference we are introducing a major refreshed release of Azure SQL Managed Instance, making it even more price attractive, powerful, and secure, and enabling customers to move or link the most demanding mission critical workloads to Azure. You can learn more about these exciting announcements by joining the PASS Summit sessions delivered by the SQL Managed Instance team.


Do more with less!

In time of uncertainty and global crisis, it’s important for organizations to optimize their IT spending.

SQL Server customers on-premises and on Azure Virtual Machines have been enjoying two important benefits since 2019, as part of their Software Assurance agreement: failover servers for disaster recovery and failover servers for disaster recovery in Azure.

We are excited to announce that the same benefit is now available for SQL Managed Instance customers using auto-failover groups for their disaster recovery configuration between two regions in Azure. These customers will not be charged for SQL Server licenses, allowing them to setup a disaster recovery configuration at a much lower cost, in pay as you go pricing model, or to reuse existing SQL Server licenses elsewhere using Azure Hybrid Benefit pricing model on standby geo-secondaries. For more details, please check out this blogpost.


Freedom of data movement across SQL estates

In parallel with the increased focus on cloud modernization, our customers voiced a strong request to keep the flexibility to move, copy and synchronize data between environments residing in Azure, on-premises, and other clouds. We heard this requirement and produced a coherent set of features that introduced freedom of data movement across multiple scenarios.

Here is the list of features that we announced today, with links pointing to additional information.




Database format compatible with SQL Server 2022


(General availability)

2-way backup portability between SQL Managed Instance and SQL Server 2022 hosted anywhere, used in the following scenarios:

·       Providing database copy to end users or eligible third parties (regulatory compliance or other purposes)

·       Enabling a light-weight business continuity and disaster recovery solution between SQL Server on-premises and SQL Managed Instance.

Link feature for Managed instance


(General availability)

1-way database synchronization from SQL Server 2022 to SQL Managed Instance, used in the following scenarios:

·       Offloading (scaling out) read-only workloads to Azure.

·       Easy migration to SQL Managed Instance.

Disaster recovery for SQL Server 2022 with Link feature for Managed instance


(Preview with sign-up)


2-way database synchronization between SQL Server 2022 and SQL Managed Instance, empowering hybrid and fully managed disaster recovery database site in Azure.

Cross-subscription Point-in-time restore (PITR)


(General availability)

Creating database point in time snapshots for refreshing specialized environments (dev, test, UAT, auditing, etc.)

Database copy and move



Creating low-latency database copies across instances, for seeding specialized environments (dev, test, UAT, auditing, etc.)


Moving databases across instances for load balancing purposes with minimal downtime (example: multitenant SaaS environments).

Transactional replication


(General availability)

List of canonical scenarios for transactional replication is available here.

Log replay service


(General availability)

Online, minimal downtime migration to SQL Managed Instance from SQL Server 2008 or later.



The database format compatibility and link features made Azure SQL Managed Instance a key enabler to the “cloud-connected package” of SQL Server 2022, which was also announced at PASS Summit.


Cloud Connected SQL 2022.png




The diagram below illustrates how disaster-recovery scenario with offline and online failback can be accomplished between SQL Server 2022 and SQL Managed Instance, by utilizing database format compatibility and 2-way database synchronization using SQL Managed Instance link, respectively.


Online and offline failback.png


November 2022 feature wave

But this is not all! This week the SQL Managed Instance team has started deployment of a new set of exciting capabilities that are coming together as a monolithic feature package, or “November 2022 feature wave”, as we named it for easier reference.


We are happy to announce the following features will be available for use on dev/test subscriptions in more than forty public regions worldwide:


The November 2022 feature wave will be rolled out through the regular service maintenance mechanism, and it will take several months to reach all subscription types and all regions, for new and previously created instances, but you can opt-in for early access. Rely on Azure Portal experience to discover its availability for subscription and region of your choice, and the ways to leverage it earlier. More information can be found in this blogpost.


Feature wave.png



A glimpse into the future

We are ending 2022 with the strongest product update since its SQL Managed Instance’s General Availability, but our team has ambitious plans for 2023 as well.

Below you will find a list with topics that we consider for future investment. Please share your opinion on potential future enhancements with regards to:

  • Performance, scalability, and flexibility to right-size instances with finer granularity (in terms of CPU, storage size and bandwidth, RAM memory, etc.)
  • Additional scenarios that accrue to freedom of data movement between various SQL Server deployment options (in Azure and outside of it).
  • Data governance and security
  • Ability to evaluate SQL Managed Instances with lower investment and friction.

If you have ideas that you would like to share, feel free to leave comments to this blogpost or contact us using https://aka.ms/contactSQLMI link.


Get started today!

Whether you are modernizing on-premises workloads directly to SQL Managed Instance or taking the next step from SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines, you can get started today:

  • Explore the cost savings and operational efficiency of Azure SQL over on-premises hosting in this analyst report from Enterprise Strategy Group.
  • Stay tuned with upcoming innovation in SQL Managed Instance by checking What’s new page
  • Try SQL Managed Instance today and let us know what you think! Feel free to submit your comments on this blog or to post product ideas and vote for existing suggestions at Managed Instance feedback page.


[1] Price-performance claims based on data from a study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Principled Technologies in April 2022. The study compared performance and price performance between a 16 vCore, 64 vCore and 80 vCore Azure SQL Managed Instance using premium-series hardware on the business-critical service tier and the db.m6i.32xlarge, db.r5b.4xlarge and db.r5b.16xlarge offerings for Amazon Web Services Relational Database Service (AWS RDS) on SQL Server. Benchmark data is taken from a Principled Technologies report using recognized standards, HammerDB TPROC-C, HammerDB TPROC-H and Microsoft MSOLTPE, a workload derived from TPC-E. The MSOLTPE is derived from the TPC-E benchmark and as such is not comparable to published TPC-E results, as MSOLTPE results do not comply with the TPC-E Specification. The results are based on a mixture of read-only and update intensive transactions that simulate activities found in complex OLTP and analytics application environments. Price-performance is calculated by Principled Technologies as the cost of running the cloud platform continuously divided by transactions per minute or per second throughput, based upon the standard. Prices are based on publicly available US pricing in South Central US for Azure SQL Managed Instance and US East for AWS RDS as of April 2022 and incorporates Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server, excluding Software Assurance and support costs. Performance and price-performance results are based upon the configurations detailed in the Principled Technologies report

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