A new (in-preview) resource in Azure SQL database was just announced that delivers instance pools for providing a cost-efficient way to migrate smaller SQL Server instances to the cloud.

Many departmental SQL Servers are virtual and run on a smaller scale. It is not uncommon to find 2-4 vCPU SQL Servers running business critical workloads. Many of these workloads contain multiple user databases which makes them a candidate for Azure SQL managed instance. Currently the smallest vCore option for managed instance is 4.

With the introduction of instance pools, a customer can pre-provision compute resources based according to their total migration requirement. For example, if a customer needed 8 vCores, they could then deploy a 4 vCore and two 2 vCore instances.

Prior to instance pools, a customer would have to consolidate smaller workloads into larger instances. This could be problematic due to a number of factors. In many cases, workloads were isolated due to security concerns, elevated privileges that a vendor required, business continuity reasons, or any number of factors. Now customers can keep the same level of isolation that they’ve had on-premises with these smaller VMs.

I see this as a big win for customers that have been wanting to migrate to Azure SQL managed instance that have smaller workloads. This essentially eliminates the concerns about having to consolidate workloads for migrations.