A new variant of SQL – Azure SQL Edge – is available in public preview and was added to the Product Terms in September 2020.
What is it?
This new flavour of SQL is made for the emerging, growing world of the cloud and edge computing – something of a focus for Microsoft over the last couple of years. Azure SQL Edge is based on SQL Server for Linux and, although it contains only a subset of the full functionality, it also includes features not found in SQL Server for Linux or Windows.
It supports both Intel and ARM processors and runs in containers, currently the only supported scenario is Docker hosts running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS or 18.04 LTS. New features include built-in data streaming and in-database machine learning.
When would you use it?
Microsoft say it is aimed at “edge scenarios” – primarily Internet of Things (IoT) – and it allows data to be analysed and processed before it gets to the central infrastructure; this can lead to faster results and also reduced cloud and network bandwidth utilisation. This latter point is an often overlooked aspect of working with the cloud – more data moving around more places means more network usage and, in many cases, more cost too.
“You don’t need an army of database administrators to install and manage SQL Edge on all your edge devices”
As Azure SQL Edge is container-based, you can deploy it from one portal and then simply update the container as needed. If this is indeed the case, it will help with the “do more with less” approach that comes with cloud – where you can easily end up with many more servers and assets than on-premises, without a matching increase in head count!
It’s in Public Preview at the moment, meaning it can be used at no cost (in areas where Azure IoT Edge is available) and more details on pricing and purchase model will be released once the preview is over.