Internet, Networking, & Security Web Development What is Microsoft SQL Azure? by Mike Chapple Writer Former Lifewire writer Mike Chapple is an IT professional with more than 10 years' experience cybersecurity and extensive knowledge of SQL and database management. our editorial process Twitter Mike Chapple Updated on July 18, 2019 Jon Feingersh/Getty Images Web Development SQL CSS & HTML Web Design Tweet Share Email SQL Azure is a cloud-based relational database that supports Transact-SQL using Microsoft SQL Server Technology but allowing you to place all of the server and operating system administration tasks in the hands of Microsoft Engineers. Features of SQL Server in the Cloud Some of the features you'll obtain by using SQL Azure are: Simplified administration, leaving the management of the database platform, operating system and hardware in the hands of othersScalable resources, allowing you to quickly add or remove resources as your needs changeIntegration with ODBC, PHP, and ADO.NET data accessManagement through SQL Server Management Studio (using the version shipped with SQL Server 2008 R2 or later)Most of the basic functionality of Microsoft SQL Server Limitations It's important to recognize that, while SQL Azure is a cloud-based alternative to Microsoft SQL Server, it is not the same as a hosted SQL Server environment. There are several important distinctions Databases are limited to 10GB.Some datatypes (specifically the CLR datatypes, which include geospatial data) are not supportedVague warnings that your connection may be terminated for "excessive resource usage" Conclusion Overall, SQL Azure is a very interesting product and may be quite appealing to those in a specific niche seeking high-performance cloud-based databases under 10GB. However, most web users will probably find that they can find similar pricing from various ISPs that include the cost of web hosting. Expect to see SQL Azure grow in popularity as it rolls out more scalable solutions supporting more advanced SQL Server functionality.