Transparent geographic failover for database groups added to Azure SQL Database

The different offerings inside Microsoft’s Azure cloud services get updated pretty frequently, with the latest component to get improvements being Azure SQL Database.

For those not familiar, Azure SQL Database is a managed cloud database service geared towards app developers. This particular capability makes it easier for them to build and manage their apps.

According to a post authored by Alexander Nosov, Principal PM for Azure SQL Database, the ability to geo-replicate databases has been available on the service since 2014. This update will add the following capabilities:

  • Geo-replication of a group of databases within a logical server
  • Ability to choose manual or automatic failover for a group of databases
  • The connection endpoint to the primary databases in the group that doesn’t change after failover
  • The connection end-point to the secondary databases in the group that doesn’t change after failover (for read-only workloads)

In essence, in case of an outage, you will be able to use the Azure SQL Database API to geo-replicate all of the databases your cloud app uses. This will work whether you only need to replicate individual databases, elastic pools, or a combination of the two, and thus the entire group of databases will failover to a second server during an outage. If you are already using geo-replication for your databases, you’ll be able to create a so-called “failover group” at no additional cost.

Finally, you’ll also not need to worry anymore about making changes to the SQL connection string post-failover. Each auto-failover group has two connection end points, a read-write one – which always points to the primary database and auto-switches during failover -, and a read-only one – which points to the secondary server and allows for load balancing of the “read-only workloads”.

All in all, a pretty big step towards making cloud database management a little easier.

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