A summary of Azure SQL Managed Instance product updates in 2023
Published Nov 15 2023 07:50 AM 2,277 Views

It became tradition for the Azure SQL Managed Instance (SQL MI) team to use period of Ignite and PASS Data Community Summit conferences to reflect on the product innovations that marked current year, and 2023 is no exception to that.

During this year, SQL MI has been continuously improved based on critical feedback from customers who were on their migration and modernization journey to Azure.

Recent set of features further strengthened reputation of SQL MI being the optimal choice for modernizing large SQL estates in Azure, offering the lowest barrier of entry along with the highest outcome of modernization and combining the best of SQL Server features with all the

benefits of a fully managed service.

We would like to thank you again for all great feedback so far and to encourage you to keep sharing new product suggestions in SQL Managed Instance Feedback Forum.


Product innovations earlier this year


Earlier this year, we announced a considerable number of features, significantly extending service capabilities in terms of performance, security, and potential for application modernization in new hybrid scenarios. Here is the quick recap of these announcements along with ideas how to use them in your scenarios.


Area / Feature Scenarios improved
Transaction log throughput doubled in Business Critical tier (GA) Write-intensive scenarios such as data ingestion, index maintenance and similar.
128 vCores in Business Critical tier (GA) Workloads with extremely high CPU requirement.
Configurable max tempdb size (GA) Fine-tuning performance of workloads dependent on tempdb.
XML compression (GA) Efficient use of storage along with faster queries using XML data type.
Azure Private Link for Azure SQL Managed Instance (GA) Support for new “Network to a managed instance” patterns which allows for simplification of networking topology, private IP address for apps to connect SQL MI through Azure backbone.
Automated key rotation for TDE BYOK (GA)

Simplifying key management responsibilities for customers through policy-based management.

SQL Auditing to Storage Account using Managed Identity (GA) A more secure and compliant way to store SQL auditing data from SQL MI.
TDS 8.0 (GA) Mandatory encryption when using SQL Server which is compatible with TLS 1.3, and TLS standards to come.

Microsoft Purview DevOps Policies

(public preview)

Allows managing access to system metadata on data sources that have been registered for data policy enforcement in Microsoft Purview.
Ledger (public preview) Using ledger, the data in SQL is verifiable using the same integrity benefits seen in blockchain technology, while keeping the flexibility, efficiency, and performance of a traditional database.
Programmability & hybrid  
Export capability (CETAS) for Data Virtualization (GA)
  • Exporting data to Azure storage to be further processed by Microsoft Fabric
  • Archiving unused / less used data to the low-cost storage with online access
Approximate Percentile Functions (GA) Applications where response time of percentile calculation is more important than the accuracy of the result
Restoring backups from AWS S3 to SQL MI (GA) Migrate to or make a copy of database available to Azure SQL Managed Instance.
MI Link for SQL Server 2016 and 2019 (GA)
  • Offloading read-only workloads from on-premises to Azure SQL Managed Instance
  • Simple to configure migration with prolonged evaluation period and minimal downtime

Failover rights for SQL MI when used as a passive DR replica (GA)


Failover rights for SQL MI in geo-DR configuration (GA)

Cost-efficient use of Azure SQL Managed Instance as passive disaster-recovery replica for your SQL Servers running on-premises or in other clouds or for another SQL Managed Instance running in a different region in Azure.
Support for Free Trial, Azure for Students and Azure in Open subscriptions (GA) Ability to create Azure SQL Managed Instance on wider set of sponsored subscriptions for free of charge evaluation.


What is announced at Microsoft Ignite and PASS Data Community Summit


Product updates that are coming for these two big conferences aim to improve customer experience in the following key areas of customer interest.





Optimal cost of running in the cloud

The economy of running in the cloud is an enduring theme for all customers who try to do more with less, especially in times of economic uncertainty. SQL MI team continues with investments that help customers optimize their spending by using the following capabilities as generally available (GA):


Industry leading availability

SQL Managed Instance has been offering industry leading SLA even in the single zone deployment option, thanks to its highly resilient architecture.

However, having an additional level of protection for a rare event of a zonal outage became de facto standard in many industries and we reacted to that feedback.

We are happy to announce that as of today both service tiers support zone redundant configuration: Business Critical in GA (after being in preview since November 2022), while General Purpose will open public preview.

Zone redundant configuration utilizes Azure Availability Zones to replicate your instances across multiple physical locations within an Azure region. By selecting zone redundant configuration, you can make your managed instances resilient to a much larger set of failures, including catastrophic datacenter outages, without any changes of the application logic.

You can enable the zone redundant configuration for your new and existing Azure SQL Managed Instance. For more details, explore this blogpost.


Hybrid flexibility and disaster recovery

In parallel with the increased focus on cloud modernization, our customers voiced a strong request for having the flexibility to move, copy, synchronize and process data in hybrid environments which are spanning across Azure, on-premises, and other clouds.

We are happy to announce a new coherent set of features that will significantly improve data mobility and processing across diverse environments.

As of today, customers will be able to use:

  • Bi-directional Link feature for SQL MI (public preview) to:
    • increase resilience of their on-premises SQL Servers by implementing management-free DR with SQL MI.
    • support efficient “off cloud” database mobility and “cloud exit” requirements in their organizations.
  • Database copy and move (GA) between instances for load-balancing and cross-environment database refresh scenarios (production to QA, UAT, development and other environments).
  • MS DTC (GA) to support distributed transactions across multiple SQL MIs, SQL Servers hosted anywhere and various applications supporting T-SQL, .NET and XA interfaces.

Note that the new features that we elaborated above represent the completion of product investments announced a year ago (at PASS Data Community Summit 2022):

  1. November 2022 feature wave, which initially was available in public preview, has now reached general availability. You can learn more about features available in GA in this blogpost.
  2. Disaster recovery for SQL Server 2022 with Link feature for Managed instance entered unlimited public preview, after a period of being in preview with sign up. In this blogpost you can learn about additional capabilities that were added to MI link in the meantime to support hybrid DR scenarios.

Get started with SQL Managed Instance


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

  1. Explore the cost savings and operational efficiency of Azure SQL Managed Instance over on-premises hosting in this analyst report from International Data Corporation (IDC).
  2. Try SQL Managed Instance today and let us know what you think! Free offer of SQL Managed Instance is coming soon to public preview, with the 12-month evaluation period!
  3. Stay tuned with upcoming innovation in SQL Managed Instance by checking What’s new page.

Please submit your comments on this blog or to post product ideas and vote for existing suggestions at Managed Instance feedback page or by directly reaching out to SQL MI team.

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‎Nov 15 2023 07:17 AM
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