Set up a lab to manage and develop with SQL Server


This article references features available in lab plans, which replaced lab accounts.

This article describes how to set up a lab for a basic SQL Server management and development class in Azure Lab Services. You learn how to set up a virtual machine template in a lab with Visual Studio 2019, SQL Server Management Studio, and Azure Data Studio. In this lab, you use an Azure SQL database instance.

Database concepts are one of the introductory courses taught in most of the Computer Science departments in college. Structured Query Language (SQL) is an international standard. SQL is the standard language for relation database management including adding, accessing, and managing content in a database. It's most noted for its quick processing, proven reliability, ease, and flexibility of use.

External resource configuration

To use a shared resource, such as an Azure SQL Database, in Azure Lab Services, you first need to create a virtual network and the resource.

  1. Create the virtual network and connect it to the lab.

    Follow these steps to create a lab with a shared resource in Azure Lab Services.

    Any resources external to Azure Lab Services are billed separately and aren't included in lab cost estimates.

    To use any external resources, you need to Connect to your virtual network in Azure Lab Services with your lab plan.


    Advanced networking must be enabled during the creation of your lab plan. It can't be added later.

  2. Create a single database in Azure SQL:

    1. From the Azure portal menu, choose Create new resource.

    2. Choose SQL Database, and then select Create.

    3. On the Basics tab of the Create SQL database page, enter the following information:

      Setting Value
      Resource group sqldb-rg
      Database name classlabdb
      Server Select Create new and enter the following information:

      - Server name: Enter a unique server name.
      - Location: If possible, enter the same location as the lab account and peered vnet to minimize latency.
      - Authentication method: Use SQL authentication
      - Server admin login: azureuser
      - Password: Enter a memorable password. Passwords must be at least eight characters in length and contain special characters.

      Select OK, to confirm the server details.
      Compute + storage Select Configure database and enter the following information:

      - Service tier: General Purpose
      - Compute tier: select the autoscaled Serverless option.
      - Max vCores: 4
      - Min vCores: 1
      - Auto-pause delay: keep the default value of 1 hour.

      Select Apply.
    4. On the Networking tab:

      1. Select Private endpoint for the Connectivity method.

      2. Under the Private endpoints section, select Add private endpoint.

      3. On the Create private endpoint flyout, enter the following information, and then select OK:

        Setting Value
        Resource group Select the same resource group as the virtual network that is connected to the lab plan or lab account.
        Location Select the same location as the virtual network.
        Name Enter labsql-endpt.
        Target sub-resource Leave default value of SqlServer.
        Virtual network Select the same virtual network peered to the lab plan or lab account.
        Subnet Select the subnet you want the endpoint hosted in. The IP address assigned to the endpoint is from the subnet's range.
        Integrate with private DNS Select No. For simplicity, you use Azure's DNS over own private DNS zone or our own DNS servers.
    5. On the Additional settings tab

      For the Use existing data setting, choose Sample. The database is created with the AdventureWorksLT sample database.

    6. Select Review + create, and then select Create to create the Azure SQL database.

Alternately, Azure SQL also provides other deployment options, such as elastic pool, managed instance, or SQL virtual machine.

Once the SQL database deployment successfully completes, you can create the lab and install software on the lab template machine.

Lab configuration

To set up this lab, you need access to an Azure subscription. Discuss with your organization's administrator to see if you can get access to an existing Azure subscription. If you don't have an Azure subscription, create a free account before you begin.

Lab plan settings

Once you have an Azure subscription, you can create a new lab plan in Azure Lab Services. For more information about creating a new lab plan, see Quickstart: Set up resources to create labs. You can also use an existing lab plan.

This lab uses the Visual Studio 2019 Community (latest release) on Windows 10 Enterprise N (x64) Azure Marketplace image as the base VM image. You first need to enable this image in your lab plan to let lab creators select the image as a base image for their lab.

Follow these steps to enable these Azure Marketplace images available to lab creators. Select the Visual Studio 2019 Community (latest release) on Windows 10 Enterprise N (x64) Azure Marketplace image.

Lab settings

First create a lab for your lab plan. For instructions on how to create a lab, see Tutorial: Set up a lab.

Use the following settings when you create the lab:

Lab setting Value and description
Virtual Machine Size Medium. This size is best suited for relational databases, in-memory caching, and analytics.
Virtual Machine Image Visual Studio 2019 Community (latest release) on Windows 10 Enterprise N (x64)

Now that you created the lab, you can modify the template machine with the required software.

Template configuration

Visual Studio

The selected image includes Visual Studio 2019 Community. All workloads and tool sets are already installed on the image. You can use the Visual Studio Installer to install any optional tools you may want. Sign in to Visual Studio to unlock the community edition.

Visual Studio includes the Data storage and processing tool set, which includes SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT). For more information about SSDT's capabilities, see SQL Server Data Tools overview. To verify the connection to the shared SQL Server for the class is successful, see connect to a database and browse existing objects. If prompted, add the template machine IP address to the list of allowed computers that can connect to your SQL Server instance.

Visual Studio supports several workloads including Web & cloud and Desktop & mobile workloads. Both of these workloads support SQL Server as a data source. For more information using ASP.NET Core to SQL Server, see build an ASP.NET Core and SQL Database app in Azure App Service tutorial. Use the System.Data.SqlClient library to connect to a SQL Database from a Xamarin app.

Install Azure Data Studio

Azure Data Studio is a multi-database, cross-platform desktop environment for data professionals using the family of on-premises and cloud data platforms on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

  1. Download the Azure Data Studio system installer for Windows. To find installers for other supported operating systems, go to the Azure Data Studio download page.

  2. On the License Agreement page, select I accept the agreement, and then select Next.

  3. On the Select Destination Location page, select Next.

  4. On the Select Start Menu Folder page, select Next.

  5. On the Select Additional Tasks page, check Create a desktop icon if you want a desktop icon, and then select Next.

  6. On the Ready to Install, select Next.

  7. Wait for the installer to run. Select Finish.

Now that you have installed Azure Data Studio, you can set up the connection to the Azure SQL database.

  1. On the Welcome page for Azure Data Studio, select the New Connection link.

  2. In the Connection Details box, fill in necessary information.

    • Set Server to
    • Set User name to azureuser
    • Set Password to password used to create the database.
    • Check Remember Password.
    • For Database, select classlabdb.
  3. Select Connect.

Install SQL Server Management Studio

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is an integrated environment for managing any SQL infrastructure. SSMS is a tool used by database administrators to deploy, monitor, and upgrade data infrastructure.

  1. Download Sql Server Management Studio, and then start the installer.

  2. On the Welcome page, select Install.

  3. On the Setup Completed page, select Close.

  4. Start Sql Server Management Studio.

  5. On the Dependency Configuration process page, select Close.

Now that you installed SSMS, you can connect and query a SQL Server. When setting up the connection, use the following values:

  • Server type: Database Engine
  • Server name:
  • Authentication: SQL Server Authentication
  • Login: azureuser
  • Password: enter the password you used to create the database.

Cost estimate

This section provides a cost estimate for running this class for 25 lab users. The estimate doesn't include the cost of running the Azure SQL database. See SQL Database pricing for current details on database pricing.

There are 20 hours of scheduled class time. Also, each user gets 10 hours quota for homework or assignments outside scheduled class time. The virtual machine size we chose was Medium, which is 42 lab units.

  • 25 lab users × (20 scheduled hours + 10 quota hours) × 42 lab units


The cost estimate is for example purposes only. For current pricing information, see Azure Lab Services pricing.

Next steps

The template image can now be published to the lab. For more information, see Publish the template VM.

As you set up your lab, see the following articles: