As of today, we are pleased to announce that the link feature for Managed Instance is available in the open public preview, in all Azure regions worldwide. It can be used with existing, or new managed instances, and SQL Server 2019 Enterprise, or Developer edition, including SQL Server 2022 CTP (available through EAP). We have also released the tooling support for the link in the form of automated wizards available in SQL Server Management Studio, starting from SSMS v18.11.1.
With the link, replicated databases from SQL Server on Managed Instance are usable as R/O secondary replicas. While the link is in operation, transactions commited on SQL Server (primary) are instantaneously committed to Managed Instance (secondary). This provides an exact replica of your SQL Server database on Managed Instance, synced near real-time. The default link replication mode is asynchronous, with an option to switch the replication mode to synchronous on-demand. The link was built to be resilient, in case of the network being down, SQL Server being rebooted, or maintained, or in case of some other issue, the link will automatically resume replicating where it has left off when the issue has been resolved. The link is also secure as VPN or Express Route (Azure's premium VPN) is used to connect SQL Server to Managed Instance via a private endpoint. Data transmitted over the wire is encrypted, and we also support replication of TDE encrypted databases providing an additional layer of security.
We understood your needs to remain running SQL Server on-premises, in your own data centers, or hosted in a VM anywhere, while needing to use your SQL Server data with a vast range of Azure services, such are analytics, Synapse, or ML, for example. MI link has addressed this need by allowing you to immerse in Azure at your own pace, as you could be running the link without any time limitations, for weeks and months at a time, and without having to migrate to Azure. Some of our customers are using the link to offloadreporting, analytics and ETL workloads to Managed Instance, or using the link to scale R/O application workloads on Managed Instance. De-risk migrations by using the replicated data in Azure to test your production R/O workloads prior to migrating. When and if you are ready to migrate to Azure, use the link as our best minimum downtime migration solution for migrating your SQL Server workloads to Azure, compared to all of our other products available today for Managed Instance.
When to use the link
Use the link to support one of the following scenarios:
Scale R/O workloads, analytics, ETL and similar workloads from SQL Server to Managed Instance (i.e. use Managed Instance as a readable secondary replica)
Consolidate and deconsolidate SQL Server workloads on Managed Instance
Complete minimum downtime migration (one way) from SQL Server to Managed Instance
Once you have ensured the pre-requirements have been met, you can create the link using the automated wizard in SSMS, or you can choose to setup the link manually using scripts. Create the link using one of the following instructions:
If and when you are ready to migrate a database to Azure with a minimum downtime, you can do this using an automated wizard in SSMS, or you can choose to do this manually with scripts. Migrate database to Azure link using one of the following instructions:
Our aim is to provide support for SQL Server versions 2016 and above (2016, 2017, 2019 and 2022). Please note that support for earlier SQL Server versions (2008, 2012 and 2014) is not possible as engines of these products lack required Always On capability for our feature. In addition, our aim is to also build bi-directional disaster recovery (DR) on Azure SQL Managed Instance exclusively for SQL Server 2022.
If you're interested in using Link feature for Azure SQL Managed Instance with SQL Serverversions and editions that are currently not supported (2016, 2017, standard editions, DR for 2022), sign-up for the managed instance link EAP (Early Access Program) for future consideration by the product group:
As our products continuously evolve, please note that features and options presented in this article are subject to change. This article reflects the state of the link feature options available for Managed Instance in March, 2022.
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