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Finding the Best Value: Microsoft Azure SQL Databases vs. Amazon RDS

Author: Charleste King | 3 min read | December 1, 2015

In another post, we discussed the features of Microsoft Azure SQL Databases and Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service). Comparing features and capabilities is only one piece of the complex puzzle that is your organization’s database needs. You must also consider pricing, and this is where the offerings from Amazon and Microsoft differ most. The services’ pricing structures are quite different, and will help determine which service is the better value for your organization.

It’s important to note that the pricing of cloud-based services such as Microsoft Azure SQL Databases and Amazon RDS is subject to change, sometimes rapidly. Please ensure you have the latest information when making your decision.

Read our latest white paper Microsoft’s Azure MySQL Databases and Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS where we compare them on eight key features and suggests the database configurations that each system is better at handling.

Microsoft Azure SQL Database Pricing

Microsoft Azure SQL Databases bases its cost on the amount of data stored or database size. There are no costs associated with the memory used or any compute time. The cost can range anywhere from $10 to $500/month, according to Ike Ellis and Scott Reed of the DevelopMentor website.

Using Microsoft’s pricing calculator will help you figure out what your costs will be. It allows you to plug in database sizes and instances as well as other things like remote apps and virtual machines.

Amazon RDS Pricing

Amazon RDS costs, by contrast, do not depend on database size. Costs vary depending on the database, but are typically based on CPU time. They run between $84 and $2,100 a month.

According to Ellis and Reed, “RDS will actually cost less when dealing with a small CPU and memory allocation and having more than 10GB of data…This pricing difference is significant enough that many organizations will make the choice solely on price.”

Like Microsoft, Amazon has a pricing calculator to help you make your decision.

Price or Value?

The dollar figure you see on a pricing calculator should not be the end of your discussion about these services, however. Instead, you should think about which service offers the greatest value to your organization in terms of both features and costs.

Although Microsoft Azure SQL Databases seems to be attractive for its pricing and tools, it has no back-up or restore capability without using third-party tools. Amazon RDS is continually innovating and adding new features, which is attractive to existing and new users as is its architecture. Having dedicated hardware resources is certainly a boon for users, but it comes at a price some organizations may not be willing to pay.

According to Ellis and Reed, your decision may depend in part on which development tools you’re using. “Microsoft developers will favor SQL Azure because of their comfort level with the T-SQL syntax and the Microsoft tooling. Ruby and Java developers who have written MySQL applications will be inclined to choose RDS,” they note.

We have expertise in both Amazon RDS and Microsoft Azure SQL Databases, and experience using each service in a variety of business contexts. We can help you sort through the features and pricing information to ensure you are making a good decision for your organization, please contact us for more information.

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