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Windows Azure SQL Database Provisioning Model

Updated: December 19, 2013

The Microsoft SQL Database provisioning process prepares and configures the hardware and software required to maintain your data at a Microsoft data center. The SQL Database provisioning model describes the logical hierarchy of your Windows Azure platform account, SQL Database servers, and databases; it enables you to provision your data storage rapidly.  

Getting Started

To use Windows Azure SQL Database, you must first create a Windows Azure platform account, which allows you to access all the services, such as Windows Azure, Windows Azure AppFabric, and Windows Azure SQL Database. The Windows Azure platform account is used to set up and manage your subscriptions and to bill for consumption of the Azure services. Buy your subscription from the Microsoft Online Services Customer Portal. After your purchase is complete, you will receive a confirmation notification in e-mail with instructions for accessing your account in the SQL Database platform.

Once the Windows Azure platform account is created, you can use the Windows Azure Platform Management Portal or the Windows Azure SQL Database Management REST API to create one or more SQL Database servers. The Management portal provides a user interface that you can use to provision servers and logins, and to quickly create databases. The Database Management API is a REST API for managing SQL Database servers and server-level firewall rules programmatically.

SQL Database supports creating multiple servers for each Windows Azure platform subscription. You can provision multiple SQL Database servers in the same or different data centers around the world and all of your servers can be bound to a single subscription. This provides a single bill for all your servers and enables you to create additional servers without needing to create a new subscription at the Microsoft Online Services Customer Portal. Each SQL Database server has its own firewall rules, databases, logins, and users.

By default, SQL Database supports up to 6 servers per subscription and 150 databases in each SQL Database server, including the master database. An extension of this limit is available. For more information, contact a customer support representative at the Microsoft Online Services Customer Portal. When you enable or disable your subscription at the Microsoft Online Services Customer Portal, SQL Database enables or disables all servers and databases associated with that subscription automatically.

To learn more about how to sign up for SQL Database and how to get started creating SQL Database servers and databases, see the Getting Started with Windows Azure SQL Database article in the TechNet Wiki.

Once the SQL Database server is created, you can use traditional tools to work with SQL Database. For more information about tools support in this release, see Tools and Utilities Support (Windows Azure SQL Database) and Guidelines and Limitations (Windows Azure SQL Database).

Subscription Accounts

When purchasing a subscription to the Windows Azure Platform, you must create a billing account with Microsoft Online Services, which manages subscriptions to all Microsoft services. Every billing account has a single account owner (also known as the account administrator.) The account owner can create and manage subscriptions, view billing information and usage data, and specify the service administrator for each subscription through the Microsoft Online Services Portal.

The service administrator is responsible for managing the services available through a subscription, such as provisioning a new SQL Database server, using the Windows Azure Management Portal. To assist in management tasks, a service administrator may add co-administrators to the subscription using the Windows Azure Management Portal.

For more information on co-administrator accounts, see Using Multiple Administrators on a Subscription.

SQL Database Provisioning Model Overview

The following diagram demonstrates the relationship between a Windows Azure platform account, the SQL Database servers, and databases.

SQL Database provisoning for servers and databases

As shown in the diagram, each Windows Azure platform account can be associated with multiple SQL Database servers. Each SQL Database server can be associated with one or more databases.


A SQL Database server is a logical group of databases and acts as a central administrative point for multiple databases. Each SQL Database server includes logins similar to those in instances of SQL Server on your premises.

Each SQL Database server has a fully qualified unique domain name, which is produced during the SQL Database server provisioning process. In the following example, servername refers to the name of the SQL Database server: servername.database.windows.net.

SQL Database servers which have not hosted a user-created database at any time during the last 90 days will be automatically deleted.  Any user created logins stored in the removed server will be lost. Users can create new servers when they need to have a user database.


Each SQL Database server can contain multiple databases. In each database, you can create tables, views, indices, stored procedures, and other familiar database objects. In order to create a new database, you can either use the Management portal or the CREATE DATABASE (Windows Azure SQL Database) statement. You can also create database-level firewall rules for each database to selectively grant access to the database. For more information about database-level firewall rules, see Windows Azure SQL Database Firewall.

The provisioning process creates a read-only master database automatically. The master database keeps track of which logins have permission to create databases or other logins. You must be connected to the master database whenever you CREATE, ALTER, or DROP logins or databases. The master database also provides SQL Database usage metrics that you can view.


During the provisioning process, SQL Database creates a login for you that is the server-level principal of your SQL Database server. This server-level principal is similar to the sa login in SQL Server. Additional SQL Databases and logins can then be created in the server, as needed. For more information on the sa login in an on-premise SQL Server instance, see Principals (Database Engine) in SQL Server Books Online.

Server-level administration for logins and databases in SQL Database differs from an on-premise instance of SQL Server. For more information, see Managing Databases and Logins in Windows Azure SQL Database and Security Guidelines and Limitations (Windows Azure SQL Database).

SQL Database provides the same set of security principals that are available in SQL Server, such as: 

  • SQL Server logins: Used to authenticate access to SQL Database at the server level.

  • Database users: Used to grant access to SQL Database at the database level.

  • Database roles: Used to group users and grant access to SQL Database at the database level.

Database-level administration for users and roles in SQL Database is the same as for an on-premise instance of SQL Server. For more information about logins, database users and roles, and permissions in SQL Database, see Managing Databases and Logins in Windows Azure SQL Database.

See Also

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