Review your data options

When you prepare your landing zone environment for your cloud adoption, you need to determine the data requirements for hosting your workloads. Azure database products and services support various data storage scenarios and capabilities. How you configure your landing zone environment to support your data requirements depends on your workload governance, technical, and business requirements.

Identify data services requirements

As part of your landing zone evaluation and preparation, you need to identify the data stores that your landing zone needs to support. The process involves assessing each of the applications and services that make up your workloads to determine their data storage and access requirements. After you identify and document these requirements, you can create policies for your landing zone to control allowed resource types based on your workload needs.

For each application or service you deploy to your landing zone environment, use the following information as a starting point to help you determine the appropriate data store services to use.

Key questions

Answer the following questions about your workloads to help you make decisions based on the Azure database services decision tree:

  • What is the level of control of the OS and database engine required? Some scenarios require you to have a high degree of control or ownership of the software configuration and host servers for your database workloads. In these scenarios, you can deploy custom infrastructure as a service (IaaS) virtual machines to fully control the deployment and configuration of data services. You might not require this level of control, but maybe you're not ready to move to a full platform as a service (PaaS) solution. In that case, a managed instance can provide higher compatibility with your on-premises database engine while offering the benefits of a fully managed platform.
  • Will your workloads use a relational database technology? If so, what technology do you plan to use? Azure provides managed PaaS database capabilities for Azure SQL Database, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB.
    • Azure Cosmos DB supports MongoDB and PostgreSQL APIs to take advantage of the many benefits that Azure Cosmos DB offers, including automatic high availability and instantaneous scalability.
  • Will your workloads use SQL Server? In Azure, you can have your workloads running in IaaS-based SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines or on the PaaS-based Azure SQL Database hosted service. Choosing which option to use is primarily a question of whether you want to manage your database, apply patches, and take backups, or if you want to delegate these operations to Azure. In some scenarios, compatibility issues might require the use of IaaS-hosted SQL Server. For more information about how to choose the correct option for your workloads, see Choose the right SQL Server option in Azure.
  • Will your workloads use key/value database storage? Azure Cache for Redis offers a high-performance cached key/value data storage solution that can power fast, scalable applications. Azure Cosmos DB also provides general-purpose key/value storage capabilities.
  • Will your workloads use document or graph data? Azure Cosmos DB is a multimodel database service that supports various data types and APIs. Azure Cosmos DB also provides document and graph database capabilities.
  • Will your workloads use column-family data? Azure Managed Instance for Apache Cassandra offers a fully managed Apache Cassandra cluster that can extend your existing datacenters into Azure or act as a cloud-only cluster and datacenter.
  • Will your workloads require high-capacity data analytics capabilities? You can use Azure Synapse Analytics to effectively store and query structured petabyte-scale data. For unstructured big data workloads, you can use Azure Data Lake to store and analyze petabyte-size files and trillions of objects.
  • Will your workloads require search engine capabilities? You can use Azure Cognitive Search to build AI-enhanced cloud-based search indexes that you can integrate into your applications.
  • Will your workloads use time series data? Azure Time Series Insights is built to store, visualize, and query large amounts of time series data, such as data generated by IoT devices.


Learn more about how to assess database options for each of your applications or services in the Azure application architecture guide.

Common database scenarios

The following table lists common use-scenario requirements and the recommended database services for handling them.

If you want to Use this database service
Build apps that scale with a managed and intelligent SQL database in the cloud. Azure SQL Database
Modernize SQL Server applications with a managed, always-up-to-date SQL instance in the cloud. Azure SQL Managed Instance
Migrate your SQL workloads to Azure while maintaining complete SQL Server compatibility and operating system-level access. SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines
Build scalable, secure, and fully managed enterprise-ready apps on open-source PostgreSQL, scale out single-node PostgreSQL with high performance, or migrate PostgreSQL and Oracle workloads to the cloud. Azure Database for PostgreSQL
Deliver high availability and elastic scaling to open-source mobile and web apps with a managed community MySQL database service, or migrate MySQL workloads to the cloud. Azure Database for MySQL
Deliver high availability and elastic scaling to open-source mobile and web apps with a managed community MariaDB database service. Azure Database for MariaDB
Build applications with guaranteed low latency and high availability anywhere, at any scale, or migrate Cassandra, MongoDB, Gremlin, and other NoSQL workloads to the cloud. Azure Cosmos DB
Modernize existing Cassandra data clusters and apps, and enjoy flexibility and freedom with managed instance service. Azure Managed Instance for Apache Cassandra
Build a fully managed elastic data warehouse that has security at every level of scale at no extra cost. Azure Synapse Analytics
Power fast, scalable applications with an open-source-compatible in-memory data store. Azure Cache for Redis

Database feature comparison

The following table lists features available in Azure database services.

Feature Azure SQL Database Azure SQL Managed Instance Azure Database for PostgreSQL Azure Database for MySQL Azure Database for MariaDB Azure Managed Instance for Apache Cassandra Azure Cosmos DB Azure Cache for Redis Azure Cosmos DB for MongoDB Azure Cosmos DB for Gremlin
Database type Relational Relational Relational Relational Relational NoSQL NoSQL In-memory NoSQL Graph
Data model Relational Relational Relational Relational Relational Multimodel: Document, Wide-column, Key-value, Graph Wide-column Key-value Document Graph
Distributed multimaster writes No No No No No Yes Yes Yes (Enterprise and Flash tiers only) Yes Yes
Virtual network connectivity support Virtual network service endpoint Native virtual network implementation Virtual network injection (flexible server only) Virtual network injection (flexible server only) Virtual network service endpoint Native virtual network implementation Virtual network service endpoint Virtual network injection (Premium, Enterprise, and Flash tiers only) Virtual network service endpoint Virtual network service endpoint


Private link service simplifies networking design to allow Azure services to communicate over private networking. It's supported for all Azure database services. In the case of Managed Instance database services, these instances are deployed in virtual networks, which negates the need to deploy private endpoints for them.

Regional availability

Azure lets you deliver services at the scale you need to reach your customers and partners wherever they are. A key factor in planning your cloud deployment is to determine what Azure region will host your workload resources.

Most database services are generally available in most Azure regions. A few regions support only a subset of these products, but they mostly target governmental customers. Before you decide which regions you'll deploy your database resources to, see Products available by region to check the latest status of regional availability.

To learn more about Azure global infrastructure, see Azure geographies. For specific details about the overall services that are available in each Azure region, see Products available by region.

Data residency and compliance requirements

Legal and contractual requirements that are related to data storage often apply to your workloads. These requirements might vary based on the location of your organization, the jurisdiction of the physical assets that host your data stores, and your applicable business sector. Components of data obligations to consider include:

  • Data classification.
  • Data location.
  • Responsibilities for data protection under the shared responsibility model.

For help with understanding these requirements, see Achieving compliant data residency and security with Azure.

Part of your compliance efforts might include controlling where your database resources are physically located. Azure regions are organized into groups called geographies. An Azure geography ensures that data residency, sovereignty, compliance, and resiliency requirements are honored within geographical and political boundaries. If your workloads are subject to data sovereignty or other compliance requirements, you must deploy your storage resources to regions in a compliant Azure geography.

Establish controls for database services

When you prepare your landing zone environment, you can establish controls that limit what data stores that users can deploy. Controls can help you manage costs and limit security risks. Developers and IT teams will still be able to deploy and configure resources that are needed to support your workloads.

After you identify and document your landing zone's requirements, you can use Azure Policy to control the database resources that you allow users to create. Controls can take the form of allowing or denying the creation of database resource types.

For example, you might restrict users to creating only Azure SQL Database resources. You can also use policies to control the allowable options when a resource is created. For example, you can restrict what SQL Database SKUs can be provisioned by allowing only specific versions of SQL Server to be installed on an IaaS VM. For more information, see Azure Policy built-in policy definitions.

Policies can be scoped to resources, resource groups, subscriptions, and management groups. You can include your policies in Azure Blueprints definitions and apply them repeatedly throughout your cloud estate.

Next steps