Features comparison: Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed Instance

Applies to: Azure SQL Database Azure SQL Managed Instance

Azure SQL Database and SQL Managed Instance share a common code base with the latest stable version of SQL Server. Most of the standard SQL language, query processing, and database management features are identical. The features that are common between SQL Server and SQL Database or SQL Managed Instance are:

Azure manages your databases and guarantees their high-availability. Some features that might affect high-availability or can't be used in PaaS world have limited functionalities in SQL Database and SQL Managed Instance. These features are described in the tables below.

If you need more details about the differences, you can find them in the separate pages:

Note

Microsoft Entra ID is the new name for Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). We are updating documentation at this time.

Features of SQL Database and SQL Managed Instance

The following table lists the major features of SQL Server and provides information about whether the feature is partially or fully supported in Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed Instance, with a link to more information about the feature.

Feature Azure SQL Database Azure SQL Managed Instance
Database compatibility 100 - 160 100 - 160
Always Encrypted Yes, see Cert store and Key vault Yes, see Cert store and Key vault
Always On Availability Groups 99.99-99.995% availability is guaranteed for every database. Disaster recovery is discussed in Overview of business continuity with Azure SQL Database. 99.99.% availability is guaranteed for every database and can't be managed by user. Disaster recovery is discussed in Overview of business continuity with Azure SQL Database. Use failover groups to configure a secondary SQL Managed Instance in another region. SQL Server instances and SQL Database can't be used as secondaries for SQL Managed Instance.
Attach a database No No
Auditing Yes, see Auditing Yes, see Auditing, with some differences
Microsoft Entra authentication (formerly Azure Active Directory) Yes, for database-level users. Server-level logins are in Public Preview. Yes. Both database-level users and server-level logins.
BACKUP command No, only system-initiated automatic backups, see Automated backups in Azure SQL Database Yes, user initiated copy-only backups to Azure Blob storage (automatic system backups can't be initiated by user), see Backup differences and Automated backups in Azure SQL Managed Instance.
Built-in functions Most, see individual functions Yes, see Stored procedures, functions, triggers differences
BULK INSERT statement Yes, but just from Azure Blob storage as a source. Yes, but just from Azure Blob Storage as a source, see differences.
Certificates and asymmetric keys Yes, without access to file system for BACKUP and CREATE operations. Yes, without access to file system for BACKUP and CREATE operations, see certificate differences.
Change data capture - CDC Yes, for S3 tier and above. Basic, S0, S1, S2 aren't supported. Yes
Collation - server/instance Yes, the default database collation is SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS. The database collation can be set on database creation and can't be updated. Specify a collation for data (COLLATE) and a catalog collation for system metadata and object identifiers (CATALOG_COLLATION). In Azure SQL Database, there's no server collation. Yes, can be set when the instance is created and can't be updated later.
Columnstore indexes Yes - Premium tier, Standard tier - S3 and above, General Purpose tier, Business Critical, and Hyperscale tiers. Yes
Common language runtime - CLR No Yes, but without access to file system in CREATE ASSEMBLY statement, see CLR differences
Credentials Yes, but only database scoped credentials. Yes, but only Azure Key Vault and SHARED ACCESS SIGNATURE are supported, see details
Cross-database/three-part name queries No, see Elastic queries Yes
Cross-database transactions No Yes, within the instance. See Linked server differences for cross-instance queries.
Database mail - DbMail No Yes
Database mirroring No No, see SQL managed instances features.
Database snapshots No No
Database virtualization No Yes
DBCC statements Most, see individual statements Yes, see DBCC differences
DDL statements Most, see individual statements Yes, see T-SQL differences
DDL triggers Database only Yes
Distributed partition views No Yes
Distributed transactions - MS DTC No, see Elastic transactions Yes, DTC for Azure SQL Managed Instance,
and Elastic transactions
DML triggers Most, see individual statements Yes
DMVs Most, see individual DMVs Yes, see T-SQL differences
Elastic query Yes, with required RDBMS type (public preview) No, use native cross-DB queries and Linked Server
Event notifications No, see Alerts No
Expressions Yes Yes
Extended events (XEvent) Some, see Extended events in SQL Database Yes, see Extended events differences.
Extended stored procedures No No
Files and file groups Primary file group only Yes. File paths are automatically assigned and the file location can't be specified in ALTER DATABASE ADD FILE.
Filestream No No, see SQL managed instances features.
Full-text search (FTS) Yes, but third-party filters and word breakers aren't supported Yes, but third-party filters and word breakers aren't supported
Functions Most, see individual functions Yes, see Stored procedures, functions, triggers differences
In-memory optimization Yes in Premium and Business Critical service tiers.
Limited support for non-persistent In-Memory OLTP objects such as memory-optimized table variables in Hyperscale service tier.
Yes in Business Critical service tier
Language elements Most, see individual elements Yes, see T-SQL differences
Ledger Yes Yes (public preview)
Link feature No Yes (public preview for DR)
Linked servers No, see Elastic query Yes. Only to SQL Server and SQL Database without distributed transactions.
Linked servers that read from files (CSV, Excel) No. Use BULK INSERT or OPENROWSET as an alternative for CSV format. No. Use BULK INSERT or OPENROWSET as an alternative for CSV format. Track these requests on SQL Managed Instance feedback item
Log shipping High availability is included with every database. Disaster recovery is discussed in Overview of business continuity. Natively built in as a part of Azure Data Migration Service (DMS) migration process. Natively built for custom data migration projects as an external Log Replay Service (LRS).
Not available as High availability solution, because other High availability methods are included with every database and it isn't recommended to use Log-shipping as HA alternative. Disaster recovery is discussed in Overview of business continuity. Not available as a replication mechanism between databases - use secondary replicas on Business Critical tier, failover groups, or transactional replication as the alternatives.
Logins and users Yes, but CREATE and ALTER login statements are limited. Windows logins are not supported. Microsoft Entra logins are in Public Preview. EXECUTE AS LOGIN isn't supported - use EXECUTE AS USER. Yes, with some differences. Windows logins are supported via Kerberos - the process requires Active Directory synchronization to Microsoft Entra ID.
Minimal logging in bulk import No, only Full Recovery model is supported. No, only Full Recovery model is supported.
Modifying system data No Yes
OLE Automation No No
OPENDATASOURCE No Yes, only to SQL Database, SQL Managed Instance and SQL Server. See T-SQL differences
OPENQUERY No Yes, only to SQL Database, SQL Managed Instance and SQL Server. See T-SQL differences
OPENROWSET Yes, only to import from Azure Blob storage. Yes, only to SQL Database, SQL Managed Instance and SQL Server, and to import from Azure Blob storage. See T-SQL differences
Operators Most, see individual operators Yes, see T-SQL differences
Polybase No. You can query data in the files placed on Azure Blob Storage using OPENROWSET function or use an external table that references a serverless SQL pool in Synapse Analytics. Yes, for Azure Data Lake Storage (ADLS) and Azure Blob Storage as data source. See Data Virtualization with Azure SQL Managed Instance for more details.
Query Notifications No Yes
Machine Learning Services (Formerly R Services) No Yes, see Machine Learning Services in Azure SQL Managed Instance
Recovery models Only Full Recovery that guarantees high availability is supported. Simple and Bulk Logged recovery models aren't available. Only Full Recovery that guarantees high availability is supported. Simple and Bulk Logged recovery models aren't available.
Resource governor No Yes
RESTORE statements No Yes, with mandatory FROM URL options for the backups files placed on Azure Blob Storage. See Restore differences
Restore database from backup From automated backups only, see SQL Database recovery From automated backups, see SQL Database recovery and from full backups placed on Azure Blob Storage, see Backup differences
Restore database to SQL Server No. Use BACPAC or BCP instead of native restore. Yes, to SQL Server 2022 only. For more information, review Restore a SQL Managed Instance database backup to SQL Server 2022. Otherwise, use BACPAC, BCP, or Transactional replication.
Semantic search No No
Service Broker No Yes. See Service Broker differences
Server configuration settings No Yes, see T-SQL differences
Set statements Most, see individual statements Yes, see T-SQL differences
SQL Server Agent No, see Elastic jobs (public preview) Yes, see SQL Server Agent differences
SQL Server Auditing No, see SQL Database auditing Yes, see Auditing differences
System stored functions Most, see individual functions Yes, see Stored procedures, functions, triggers differences
System stored procedures Some, see individual stored procedures Yes, see Stored procedures, functions, triggers differences
System tables Some, see individual tables Yes, see T-SQL differences
System catalog views Some, see individual views Yes, see T-SQL differences
TempDB Yes. 32-GB size per core for every database. Yes. 24-GB size per vCore for entire GP tier and limited by instance size on BC tier
Temporary tables Local and database-scoped global temporary tables Local and instance-scoped global temporary tables
Time zone choice No Yes, see Time zones, and it must be configured when the SQL Managed Instance is created.
Trace flags No Yes, but only limited set of global trace flags. See DBCC differences
Transactional Replication Yes, Transactional and snapshot replication subscriber only Yes, see limitations of replication in SQL Managed Instance.
Transparent data encryption (TDE) Yes, see TDE for Azure SQL Yes, see TDE for Azure SQL
Windows authentication No Yes, see Windows Authentication for Microsoft Entra principals
Windows Server Failover Clustering No. Other techniques that provide high availability are included with every database. Disaster recovery is discussed in Overview of business continuity with Azure SQL Database. No. Other techniques that provide high availability are included with every database. Disaster recovery is discussed in Overview of business continuity with Azure SQL Database.

Platform capabilities

The Azure platform provides a number of PaaS capabilities that are added as an additional value to the standard database features. There are a number of external services that can be used with Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed Instance.

Platform feature Azure SQL Database Azure SQL Managed Instance
Active geo-replication Yes, see Active geo-replication - all service tiers. No, see failover groups as an alternative.
Auto-scale Yes, but only in serverless model. In the non-serverless model, the change of service tier (change of vCore, storage, or DTU) is fast and online. The service tier change requires minimal or no downtime. No, you need to choose reserved compute and storage. The change of service tier (vCore or max storage) is online and requires minimal or no downtime.
Automatic backups Yes, see automated backups in Azure SQL Database. Full backups are taken every 7 days, differential 12 hours, and log backups every 5-10 min. Yes, see automated backups in Azure SQL Managed Instance. Full backups are taken every 7 days, differential 12 hours, and log backups every 5-10 min.
Automatic tuning (indexes) Yes, see Automatic tuning No
Availability Zones Yes Yes, in preview, currently for the Business Critical tier only
Azure Resource Health Yes Yes
Short-term backup retention Yes, see short-term retention. 7 days default, max 35 days. Yes, see short-term retention. 1-35 days, 7 days default.
Azure Database Migration Service (DMS) Yes Yes
Data Migration Service (DMA) Yes No
Elastic jobs Yes, see Elastic jobs (public preview) No. Use SQL Agent or Azure Automation.
Failover groups Yes, see failover groups - all service tiers. Yes, see failover groups.
File system access No. Use BULK INSERT or OPENROWSET to access and load data from Azure Blob Storage as an alternative. No. Use BULK INSERT or OPENROWSET to access and load data from Azure Blob Storage as an alternative.
Geo-restore Yes, see Geo-restore Yes, see Geo-restore
Long-term retention (LTR) Yes, see long-term retention, keep automatically taken backups up to 10 years. Yes, see long-term retention, keep automatically taken backups up to 10 years.
Pause/resume Yes, in serverless model Yes, with Stop / start preview
Policy-based management No No
Public IP address Yes. The access can be restricted using firewall or service endpoints. Yes. Needs to be explicitly enabled and port 3342 must be enabled in NSG rules. Public IP can be disabled if needed. See Public endpoint for more details.
Point in time database restore Yes, see Point-in-time restore Yes, see Point-in-time restore
Resource pools Yes, as Elastic pools Yes. A single instance of SQL Managed Instance can have multiple databases that share the same pool of resources. In addition, you can deploy multiple instances of SQL Managed Instance in instance pools (public preview) that can share the resources.
Scaling up or down (online) Yes, you can either change DTU or reserved vCores or max storage with the minimal downtime. Yes, you can change reserved vCores or max storage with the minimal downtime.
SQL Alias No, use DNS Alias No, use Cliconfg to set up alias on the client machines.
SQL Analytics Yes Yes
SQL Data Sync Yes, see SQL Data Sync No, use transactional replication.
SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) No, Azure Analysis Services is a separate Azure cloud service. No, Azure Analysis Services is a separate Azure cloud service.
SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) Yes, with a managed SSIS in Azure Data Factory (ADF) environment, where packages are stored in SSISDB hosted by Azure SQL Database and executed on Azure SSIS Integration Runtime (IR), see Create Azure-SSIS IR in ADF.

To compare the SSIS features in SQL Database and SQL Managed Instance, see Compare SQL Database to SQL Managed Instance.
Yes, with a managed SSIS in Azure Data Factory (ADF) environment, where packages are stored in SSISDB hosted by SQL Managed Instance and executed on Azure SSIS Integration Runtime (IR), see Create Azure-SSIS IR in ADF.

To compare the SSIS features in SQL Database and SQL Managed Instance, see Compare SQL Database to SQL Managed Instance.
SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) No - see Power BI No - use Power BI paginated reports instead or host SSRS on an Azure VM. While SQL Managed Instance can't run SSRS as a service, it can host SSRS catalog databases for a reporting server installed on Azure Virtual Machine, using SQL Server authentication.
Query Performance Insights (QPI) Yes No. Use built-in reports in SQL Server Management Studio and Azure Data Studio.
VNet Partial, it enables restricted access using VNet Endpoints Yes, SQL Managed Instance is injected in the VNet.
VNet Service endpoint Yes, see virtual network service endpoints. Yes, see service endpoint policies.
VNet Global peering Yes, using Private IP and service endpoints Yes, using Virtual network peering.
Private connectivity Yes, using Private Link Yes, using VNet-local endpoint or private endpoint

Resource limits

The following table compares the maximum resource limits available for Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed Instance:

Category Azure SQL Database Azure SQL Managed Instance
Compute size Up to 128 vCores Up to 128 vCores
Storage size 1 GB - 100 TB 16 TB
Tempdb size 32 GB per vCore, up to 2,560 GB Up to 4 TB - limited by reserved storage size
Log write throughput Up to 100mb/sec 4.5 MB/s per vCore (max 192 MB/s)
Availability Default SLA
99.995% SLA with zone redundancy
Default SLA
Backups A choice of locally redundant (LRS), zone-redundant (ZRS), or geo-redundant (GRS) storage
1-35 days (7 days by default) retention, with up to 10 years of long-term retention available
A choice of locally redundant (LRS), zone-redundant (ZRS), geo-redundant (GRS) or geo-zone-redundant (GZRS) storage
1-35 days (7 days by default) retention, with up to 10 years of long-term retention available
Read-only replicas Read scale with 1-4 high availability replicas or 1-30 named replicas
0 - 4 geo-replicas
1 built-in high availability replica is readable
0 - 1 geo-replicas using failover groups
Discount models Reserved instances
Azure Hybrid Benefit (not available on dev/test subscriptions)
Enterprise and Pay-As-You-Go Dev/Test subscriptions
Reserved instances
Azure Hybrid Benefit (not available on dev/test subscriptions)
Enterprise and Pay-As-You-Go Dev/Test subscriptions

To learn more about resource limits for Azure SQL Database, review:

To learn more about resource limits for Azure SQL Managed Instance, review: Resource limits.

Tools

Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed Instance support various data tools that can help you manage your data.

Tool Azure SQL Database Azure SQL Managed Instance
Azure portal Yes Yes
Azure portal Query editor Yes No
Azure CLI Yes Yes
Azure Data Studio Yes Yes
Azure PowerShell Yes Yes
BACPAC file (export) Yes, see SQL Database export Yes, see SQL Managed Instance export
BACPAC file (import) Yes, see SQL Database import Yes, see SQL Managed Instance import
Data Quality Services (DQS) No No
Master Data Services (MDS) No No. Host MDS on an Azure VM. While SQL Managed Instance can't run MDS as a service, it can host MDS databases for an MDS service installed on Azure Virtual Machine, using SQL Server authentication.
SMO Yes, see SMO. Yes, since SMO version 150.
SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) Yes Yes
SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) Yes Yes version 18.0 and higher
SQL Server PowerShell Yes Yes
SQL Server Profiler No, see Extended events Yes
System Center Operations Manager Yes, see Microsoft System Center Management Pack for Azure SQL Database. Yes, see Microsoft System Center Management Pack for Azure SQL Managed Instance.

Migration methods

You can use different migration methods to move your data between SQL Server, Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed Instance. Some methods are Online and picking-up all changes that are made on the source while you're running migration, while in Offline methods you need to stop your workload that is modifying data on the source while the migration is in progress.

Source Azure SQL Database Azure SQL Managed Instance
SQL Server (on-premises, AzureVM, Amazon RDS) Online: Transactional Replication
Offline: Data Migration Service (DMS), BACPAC file (import), BCP
Online: Managed Instance link, Log Replay Service, Azure Data Migration Service (DMS), Transactional Replication
Offline: Azure Database Migration Service, Native backup/restore, BACPAC file (import), BCP, Snapshot replication
Single database Offline: BACPAC file (import), BCP Offline: BACPAC file (import), BCP
SQL Managed Instance Online: Transactional Replication
Offline: BACPAC file (import), BCP, Snapshot replication
Online: Database copy/move preview, Transactional Replication
Offline: Cross-instance point-in-time restore (Azure PowerShell or Azure CLI), Native backup/restore, BACPAC file (import), BCP, Snapshot replication

Next steps

Microsoft continues to add features to Azure SQL Database. Visit the Service Updates webpage for Azure for the newest updates using these filters:

For more information about Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Managed Instance, see: