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The Speed of Azure

By Steve Jones,

As database administrators we seem to be slow to embrace new technologies and paradigms. There was a lack of enthhusiasm from DBAs for SANs years ago, and virtual machines more recently, at a time when many other technology professioanls were embracing these ideas. Even today there is resistance from some people, and sometimes with good reason. SQL Servers are not like other servers and have much different hardware requirements. Too often the virtual machine and storage administrators do not appreciate that SQL Servers need different architectures.

Lately the cloud services push is seeing lots of resistance from DBAs. Various vendors and media hype the idea and potential savings, which then convince management that systems need to be moved or built in the cloud. There are some applications that fit better in the cloud, but not all of them. I certainly don't want sensitive information in the cloud, at least until we work out some of the legalities for who owns, controls, and responds to subpoena about data.

The applications that make sense seem to be those that are distributed with lots of paying clients. I ran across a blog that looked at some of the companies that have moved into the Azure cloud with pieces of their businesses and been quite pleased with the results. Quite a few of these are cost-scalable by clients, meaning that a new user or customer is paying some fee that makes it economical to add new databases and servers for that client. If they leave, you can shut down their server.

It's definitely easier to start an application in the cloud rather than move an existing one. The architecture is different from an on-premise application, and that means code changes. Not something many companies want to engage in, given the past success of such projects. However the cost savings can be significant for new projects, if those new projects involve investment in equipment, facilities, people, or some combination of all of those.

However one of the biggest items I see mentioned why companies like cloud platforms like Azure is the speed of deployment. To me that means that the IT infrastructure people, from storage to admin to DBAs, are falling down on the job. There's no reason we can't deploy new machines as quickly as Azure these days.

Steve Jones


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