What’s new in Azure SQL Managed Instance at Ignite 2020
Published Sep 23 2020 07:34 AM 8,190 Views

Azure SQL Managed Instance is a fully managed, secure, and always up-to-date SQL instance in the cloud, providing an ideal destination for modernizing your SQL Server applications at scale. SQL Managed Instance is part of the Azure SQL family of database services which include virtual machines and managed databases. Since its inception, Azure SQL Managed Instance (SQL MI) has been continuously improved based on customer feedback, aiming to meet critical requirements of organizations that migrate and modernize their applications in Azure.


In that spirit we are excited to announce several important capabilities coming to preview or general availability during Ignite 2020, which will bring significant improvements across multiple product aspects: performance, security and compliance, management experience, programmability surface area and application compatibility. This blog post gives you a quick summary of these new capabilities which will help you achieve more with Azure SQL Managed Instance.


General Availability: Major performance improvements for Azure SQL Managed Instances

We are thrilled to announce a set of major performance improvements for Azure SQL Managed Instances, which enable you to migrate your more performance-hungry database workloads to Azure SQL Managed Instance. These improvements include more than doubled transaction log write throughput for General Purpose and Business Critical instances and superior data/log IOPS for Business Critical instances. Increased performance predictability and stability for General Purpose service tier through better integration and enhanced tempdb performance are also included. These performance improvements are automatically enabled for all existing and future Azure SQL Managed Instances at no extra charge.


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General Availability: Global virtual network peering support for Azure SQL Managed Instance

To provide you with an easier network configuration, all managed instances created in empty subnets will be hosted on virtual clusters that are enabled for access over global virtual network peering connections. This enables you to pair managed instances in a failover group configuration, in an easy and performant way, by simply connecting virtual networks in two different regions. By utilizing the global virtual network peering for your managed instances, you will save time through easy network configuration and offload your gateways from database replication traffic.




General Availability: Configurable Backup Storage Redundancy option for data residency compliance

Now in general availability, locally-redundant and zone-redundant storage options have been added to Azure SQL Managed Instance, providing more flexibility and choice. These backup storage alternatives give cost-effective options for ensuring data is protected in case of planned and unplanned events.
In addition, if you need to meet specific data residency requirements and ensure that your data does not leave region of database deployment, this option will help you stay compliant.
Use Azure portal to configure backup storage redundancy easily or automate setting desired options in your PowerShell and Azure CLI scrips. For more information, see our Tech Community blog.


Easier management experience
General Availability: Enhanced management experience for Azure SQL Managed Instance

Azure SQL Managed Instance provide management operations that you can use to automatically deploy new managed instances, update instance properties, and delete instances when no longer needed. Most of the management operations in SQL Managed Instance are long-running but until now it was not possible for customers to get detailed information about operation status and progress in an easy and transparent way.
Through the introduction of a new CRUD API, the SQL Managed Instance resource is now visible from when the create request is submitted. In addition, the new OPERATIONS API adds the ability to monitor management operations, see operation steps, and take dependent actions based on operation progress.
Check out this blog post to learn how to effectively utilize new APIs in real-word scenarios.


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Preview: Azure Active Directory (AAD) authentication configuration with non-admin privileges

Users can now assign groups to Directory Readers role in Azure Active Directory. This change will promote ease of use when setting up Active Directory Admin for Azure SQL Database and Managed Instance.

Effectively, AAD auth configuration for individual managed instances does not require Global Admin or Privileged Role admin’s action anymore.
With this change, setting AAD authentication managed instances will be much simpler and streamlined in large organizations.
At the high level, improved process will look like this:

  1. Global Admin or Privileged Role Admin:
    1. Creates new Azure AD group where managed identities of Azure SQL Managed Instances will reside and assign “Directory Readers” role to this group. This action needs to be performed once per Azure AD tenant.
    2. Assigns group owners to the group – any Azure AD users without specific roles.
  2.  Group owners then can add managed identity of an instance to the group.

Programmability and application compatibility
Preview: Machine Learning on Azure SQL Managed Instance 

Machine Learning Services with support for R and Python languages now include preview support on Azure SQL Managed Instance. When using Machine Learning Services in Azure SQL Managed Instance, you can run R and Python scripts to do data preparation and processing, train machine learning models in database, and deploy your models and scripts into production in stored procedures.


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General Availability: Hosting catalog databases for all supported versions of SSRS in Azure SQL Managed Instance

Now in general availability, Azure SQL Managed Instance can host catalog databases for all supported versions of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). Last year, SQL Server 2019 Reporting Services introduced native support for hosting catalog databases in SQL Managed Instance. Now you can also use SQL Managed Instance to host catalog databases for earlier supported versions of SSRS.

This is especially useful for fast migration of existing reporting solutions to SQL Managed Instance, without the need to test and adopt the latest version of SSRS. It also helps you get quick business benefits and then modernize further at your own pace.

To learn how to configure your SQL Managed Instance to host catalog databases for earlier supported versions of SSRS, visit the Tech Community blog.


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Preview: Distributed database transactions spanning multiple Azure SQL Managed Instances

Distributed database transactions spanning multiple Azure SQL Managed Instances are now available! This capability enables frictionless migration of existing applications and development of modern, multi-tenant applications relying on vertically or horizontally partitioned database architecture.

By utilizing distributed transactions, you will save time when migrating existing applications that require this capability as it eliminates the need to change application code and to perform extensive testing. If you develop new applications, you can benefit from partitioning data into multiple databases to overcome current sizing limitations of Azure SQL Managed Instance, while utilizing distributed transactions to keep partitioned data in a consistent state.

During preview, two methods of running distributed transactions will be supported using BEGIN DISTRIBUTED TRANSACTION statement from Transact-SQL code and using TransactionScope class from .NET code.


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Recently added features

We would like also to remind you about a couple of useful features that were recently added to Azure SQL Managed Instance. Visit the links below to learn how to utilize them in your application scenarios:

Get started today!

  • Get started quickly with Azure SQL Managed Instance using resources from our landing page on Azure.com.
  • Find out more about how to migrate, modernize, and develop applications faster with Azure SQL by registering for our digital event Transform Your Applications with Azure SQL.
  • Find out how SQL Managed Instance reduces management overhead with its virtually hands-free administration and gives you a low total cost of ownership in this Forrester Total Economic Impact Report.
  • Read customer stories to learn how other customers utilize Azure SQL Managed Instance to improve their business 
  • 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.
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‎Nov 09 2020 09:40 AM
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