Hybrid Flexibility in Azure SQL Managed Instance
Published Jun 05 2023 07:22 AM 3,470 Views

Hybrid Strategies with the Azure SQL family of services

Adopting a hybrid strategy makes it possible to access benefits of cloud services without exiting your datacenter, making it a game-changer when it comes to simplifying countless scenarios you may come across in your business processes. The flexibility of hybrid connectivity also allows you to increase your on-premises datacenter’s capabilities while reducing utilities and maintenance costs, as well as other operational costs associated with your datacenter.  


Azure SQL Managed Instance offers several options for introducing a hybrid environment to your organization, and each one is ideal for a variety of scenarios… so you can experience the freedom of movement and data mobility no matter what your situation or preferences are. SQL Managed Instance, part of the Azure SQL family of SQL services, can be thought of as a fully managed instance of SQL Server in Azure, eliminating the need for most maintenance tasks and providing opportunities to lower costs. It is a fully managed PaaS offering that has near 100% compatibility with SQL Server, including the latest SQL Server 2022 release. SQL Managed Instance provides new flexibility for customers who want to experience Azure benefits and capabilities with or without migrating to Azure. 


Managed Instance link feature  

The SQL Managed Instance link feature creates a hybrid link between SQL Server hosted on-premises, in your datacenter, or in any cloud provider and SQL Managed Instance. This feature enables near real-time database replication from SQL Server to SQL Managed Instance while keeping your data safe and secure, allowing you to take advantage of Azure benefits without having to migrate your SQL Server databases to the cloud. The link can be operated for as long as you need it. 


Managed Instance link’s hybrid flexibility gives you the opportunity to use your replicated databases in multiple scenarios. One of the scenarios is using Azure services such are reporting, analytics, backups, machine learning, and others, which aren’t typically available without migrating your data. The link gives you the best of both worlds— a smoother experience of remaining in your datacenter and the ability to use Azure services. If one of your applications uses SQL Server for read/write workloads, it can also simultaneously be used to offload read-only workloads to SQL Managed Instance. You can use the replicated databases on your managed instance for read scale-out, or to offload read-only workloads to Azure. In this case, your primary database on SQL Server is read/write accessible and the replicated data in your managed instance is read-only accessible. The link also allows you to offload analytics and reporting to Azure.  

The link feature is also ideal if you’re interested in migrating from SQL Server to SQL Managed Instance. It de-risks migration by allowing you to validate your workloads before migrating to Azure and offers the best possible minimum downtime migration solution to both Managed Instance General Purpose and Business Critical service tiers 


Protecting your SQL Server data is crucial, and there are both offline and online disaster recovery (DR) options with the link feature in Azure. If you’re running SQL Server 2022, Managed Instance link allows you to fail over your workload online to SQL Managed Instance in the case of a disaster, then fail back to SQL Server 2022 once the disaster has been resolved – in online and offline manner. This capability also helps meet the compliance requirements for companies that need to show auditors the ability to go back from SQL Managed Instance to SQL Server. Offline DR option is in GA today, while the online DR is currently available in public preview, which you can sign up for here. 


Distributed Transaction Coordinator (DTC) for Azure SQL Managed Instance 

DTC for Azure SQL Managed Instance allows you to run distributed transactions across multiple on-premises environments that can establish network connectivity to Azure. The lack of DTC is one of the major migration blockers for many organizations that run applications across multiple databases and application servers. If you have a need to run transactions between multiple SQL Servers or other relational database management systems and the custom app you’re using, you are probably relying on DTC (aka MS DTC). By running these distributed transactions in mixed environments, you can reap the benefits of hybrid flexibility by getting your data where and when you need it, whether it’s on-premises or in the cloud. This also means you can migrate and modernize only one part of your database system to Azure while the rest of it remains running on the current location. DTC for Azure SQL Managed Instance is also managed, so you don’t have to worry about management and maintenance—Azure does the logging, storage, DTC availability, and networking for you. 


Transactional replication 

Transactional replication allows you to replicate data from tables in Azure SQL Managed Instance or a SQL Server instance to tables in remote databases, as well as synchronize multiple tables in different databases. This feature is ideal if you need to push changes made in one of your managed instances to a SQL Server (on-premises, on Azure VMs, or in any cloud provider as long as there is network connectivity), an Azure SQL Database, or a database in SQL Managed Instance. Transactional replication can also replicate from SQL Server to SQL Managed Instance. While this feature is not near real-time replication like Managed Instance link, it can have low latency. It is also flexible and allows you to replicate only a subset of your data. 


With transactional replication, you are able to sync changes from one SQL Server database to multiple SQL Managed Instances that are in different geographical regions, with setting up one publisher and multiple subscribers. This feature also allows you to keep several distributed databases in a synchronized state and migrate databases by continuously publishing the changes from source to destination database. 


Azure Arc-enabled data services 

If you need to run Azure data services on-premises, at the edge, and in public clouds, Azure Arc-enabled SQL Managed Instance is another product available that can help in scenarios that require flexibility of a hybrid work model like data latency, regulations, distributed compute, and multicloud. Arc-enabled SQL Managed Instance enables you to access Azure for on-premises workloads and scale your workloads based on capacity. You can also access a single view of your data across both on-premises and multicloud environments.  

Arc-enabled SQL Managed Instance Business Critical is unmatched when it comes to speed and performance, making it easier to scale by running multiple managed instances. When powered by the latest Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors it run 15% faster than identical TPC-E-like workloads in comparison to SQL Server on Windows running on VMware. You can learn more about the performance of Azure Arc-enabled SQL Managed Instance here. 



Pursuing a hybrid strategy allows organizations to experience the ultimate freedom and flexibility when it comes to working with data in mixed environments. If you are hesitant to migrate, Azure SQL Managed Instance offers several solutions that can help provide you with Azure benefits without migrating and makes it easier and less stressful to migrate when you’re ready. No matter what your goals are, using hybrid solutions ensures your data is where you need it simplifying your business needs in the process. 


Learn more about hybrid solutions with Azure SQL Managed Instance with an on-demand webinar hosted by MSSQLTips.com. Register now

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‎Jun 16 2023 12:49 PM
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