Extend support for SQL Server with Azure

Applies to: SQL Server on Azure VM

SQL Server 2012 has reached the end of its support (EOS) life cycle. Because many customers are still using this version, we're providing several options to continue getting support. You can migrate your on-premises SQL Server instances to Azure virtual machines (VMs), migrate to Azure SQL Database, or stay on-premises and purchase extended security updates.

Unlike with a managed instance, migrating to an Azure VM does not require recertifying your applications. And unlike with staying on-premises, you'll receive free extended security patches by migrating to an Azure VM.

The rest of this article provides considerations for migrating your SQL Server instance to an Azure VM.

For more information about end of support options, see End of support.


There is a pay-as-you-go SQL Server 2012 on Windows Server 2012 R2 image available on Azure Marketplace.


SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 are out of extended support and no longer available from the Azure Marketplace.

Customers who are on an earlier version of SQL Server will need to either self-install or upgrade to SQL Server 2012. Likewise, customers on an earlier version of Windows Server will need to either deploy their VM from a custom VHD or upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2.

Images deployed through Azure Marketplace come with the SQL IaaS Agent extension pre-installed. The SQL IaaS Agent extension is a requirement for flexible licensing and automated patching. Customers who deploy self-installed VMs will need to manually install the SQL IaaS Agent extension.


Although the SQL Server Create and Manage options will work with the SQL Server 2012 image in the Azure portal, the following features are not supported: Automatic backups, Azure Key Vault integration, and R Services.


Pay-as-you-go SQL Server 2012 deployments can convert to Azure Hybrid Benefit.

To convert a Software Assurance (SA)-based license to pay-as-you-go, customers should register with the SQL IaaS Agent extension. After that registration, the SQL license type will be interchangeable between Azure Hybrid Benefit and pay-as-you-go.

Self-installed SQL Server 2012 instances on an Azure VM can register with the SQL IaaS Agent extension and convert their license type to pay-as-you-go.


You can migrate EOS SQL Server instances to an Azure VM with manual backup/restore methods. This is the most common migration method from on-premises to an Azure VM.

Azure Site Recovery

For bulk migrations, we recommend the Azure Site Recovery service. With Azure Site Recovery, customers can replicate the whole VM, including SQL Server from on-premises to Azure VM.

SQL Server requires app-consistent Azure Site Recovery snapshots to guarantee recovery. Azure Site Recovery supports app-consistent snapshots with a minimum 1-hour interval. The minimum recovery point objective (RPO) possible for SQL Server with Azure Site Recovery migrations is 1 hour. The recovery time objective (RTO) is 2 hours plus SQL Server recovery time.

Database Migration Service

The Azure Database Migration Service is an option for customers if they're migrating from on-premises to an Azure VM by upgrading SQL Server to the 2012 version or later.

Disaster recovery

Disaster recovery solutions for EOS SQL Server on an Azure VM are as follows:

  • SQL Server backups: Use Azure Backup to help protect your EOS SQL Server 2012 against ransomware, accidental deletion, and corruption with a 15-minute RPO and point-in-time recovery. For more details, see this article.

  • Log shipping: You can create a log shipping replica in another zone or Azure region with continuous restores to reduce the RTO. You need to manually configure log shipping.

  • Azure Site Recovery: You can replicate your VM between zones and regions through Azure Site Recovery replication. SQL Server requires app-consistent snapshots to guarantee recovery in case of a disaster. Azure Site Recovery offers a minimum 1-hour RPO and a 2-hour (plus SQL Server recovery time) RTO for EOS SQL Server disaster recovery.

Security patching

Extended security updates for SQL Server VMs are delivered through the Microsoft Windows Update channels after the SQL Server VM has been registered with the SQL IaaS Agent extension. Patches can be downloaded manually or automatically.

Automated patching is enabled by default. Automated patching allows Azure to automatically patch SQL Server and the operating system. You can specify a day of the week, time, and duration for a maintenance window if the SQL Server IaaS extension is installed. Azure performs patching in this maintenance window. The maintenance window schedule uses the VM locale for time. For more information, see Automated patching for SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines.

For improved patching management, which also includes Cumulative Updates, try the integrated Azure Update Manager experience.


Registration with the SQL IaaS Agent extension is not required for manual installation of extended security updates on Azure virtual machines. Microsoft Update automaticallys detect the VM is running in Azure and presents relevant updates for download even if the extension is not isntalled.

Azure Update management as of today does not detect patches for SQL Server Marketplace images. You should look under Windows Updates to apply SQL Server updates in this case.

Next steps

Find out more about end of support options and Extended Security Updates.