Microsoft & .NETUnderstanding the SQL Azure Editions, Subscriptions Types and Pricing

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SQL Azure is the cloud-based database service offered as part of Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform. SQL Azure offers a lot of business value to enterprises by way of its following features:

  • Scalability
  • Availability
  • Provisioning
  • Payment model
  • No-maintenance

The USP of SQL Azure lies in the fact that one does not have to worry about how much storage space they occupy on the server. “Large bursts” of data are no longer your IT department’s headache since the database is managed by Microsoft, including adding more storage capacity. Similarly, Microsoft datacenter folks ensure that your database is always available.

SQL Azure also offers high availability and failover support. Setting up multiple instances is a low–effort activity since no setup is required for provisioning your database.

With SQL Azure, you also have the option to pay as you consume, so if you are a consumer with meager requirements, you will end up paying less. As your consumption increases, your payments will also increase.

Also, SQL Azure allows an enterprise to focus on its business instead of infrastructure since the infrastructure is maintained by Microsoft. Microsoft is responsible for patching the machines, taking regular backup and other IT-centric activities.

Subscription Types

SQL Azure comes with two types of subscriptions. One is consumption-based and the other is commitment-based.

  1. Consumption based – In the consumption based subscription, you pay for what you use. The more you use, the more you pay. There is no time commitment involved.
  2. Commitment based – In a commitment-based subscription, you get the service at a discount but this requires a time commitment. Because of the time commitment involved, the pricing is discounted compared to the consumption-based model. However, you will have to pay even if you do not use the service.

SQL Azure Editions Explained

SQL Azure comes in two editions:

Web edition – This is targeted for web applications which need small data sets. The maximum database size supported is 5 GB with database size starting from 1 GB and pricing increments of 1GB.

Business Edition – This edition is best suited for line of business applications and enterprise applications. The database supported is 10GB to 50GB with pricing increments of 10GB.

Billing begins with creating of SQL Azure database.

Web edition is ideal for small web applications. Business edition, on the other hand, is targeted for more data-savvy enterprise applications like payroll processing or inventory management.

Pricing Meters

Pricing for SQL Azure is based on two factors: database size and data transfer.

Irrespective of the SQL Azure edition used, a monthly fee is charged for each SQL Azure database. Note that the Master database is not charged in either web edition or Business edition. The database fee is amortized over the month and is charged daily.

Let us explore this further. Consider a web edition database. The daily peak size for 4 days in a week is around 100MB but on Fridays and the weekend, it rises to over 3 GB.

The pricing for 1 GB (100 MB usage) is $9.99 per month, whereas for the rest of the week, it is priced at $49.99 per month (3GB daily use).

The net monthly price based on database size is calculated as under:

18/30 * 9.99 (18 days, we use only 100 MB daily) + 12 /30 * 49.99 (for 12 days, we use 3 GB daily)

This amounts to a net today of 25.99.

This means that monthly amortization has resulted in a customer paying only $25.99 per month instead of $49.99 which would have to be paid otherwise. This represents savings for the customer.

Data Transfer

No fees are charged for data transfer when data is transferred in the same data center. However if data is transferred between data centers or with an on-premise locations, the user is charged for data transfer based on gigabytes transferred.

Billing Information

Billing information is available at (you might have to log in). You can view your monthly bill online. When you check the bill, you can also check the details of the data transfers which occurred in the billing cycle to understand your total bill (available at


In this article, we looked at the various SQL Azure editions, the available subscription types and the pricing for each subscription type.

About the author

Vipul Patel is a Software Engineer currently working at Microsoft Corporation. He is currently working in the Microsoft Lync team and has worked in the .NET team earlier in the Base Class libraries and the Debugging and Profiling team. He can be reached at

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