Following last week's unveiling of a preview of fully managed NoSQL database and search services on Azure, Microsoft has announced intentions to release new Azure SQL database service tiers in September. Additionally, the service tiers will launch with reduced pricing and a new service-level agreement (SLA).

Eron Kelly, general manager of product marketing for SQL Server product management at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post that the new service tiers for Azure SQL Database, the company's database-as-a-service (DBaaS) offering, will provide customers with greater price performance and business continuity for cloud apps.

"During the preview, we have actively listened and responded to customer feedback to tune our offerings for general availability," Kelly noted on his blog. "Per your feedback, we are reducing the service tier prices from previously announced rates, introducing a new performance level and offering hourly billing. In addition, we are providing an enhanced service-level agreement (SLA) of 99.99 percent availability."

In April, Microsoft unveiled Basic, Standard and Premium tiers for the Azure SQL Database service, each of which was designed to provide a defined set of resources that deliver predictable performance for lightweight to heavyweight transactional application demands. The service is also intended to ensure that app performance is not affected by other customer apps and workloads.

"The new tiers also offer a spectrum of business continuity features and larger database sizes up to 500 GB. Since April, we have continued to roll out additional features, improve the upgrade experience, and increase performance, even up to 5x, in the new offerings," Kelly wrote.

Changes to the service and service levels include:

  • Price reductions by up to 50 percent from previously published pricing for both the Standard and Premium subscription levels
  • The Standard level will also feature a new S0 performance level--a lower-cost entry point for customers
  • Hourly billing for the new service tiers for customer flexibility for switching between service tiers and performance levels based on demand patterns

As for the new SLA, it has been boosted up to 99.99 percent availability.