Coding at the Speed of Innovation: AI and more with Azure SQL Database

Asad Khan

As Build 2024 approaches, the Azure SQL Database team is preparing a great line-up of product announcements. Innovation continues to be a big theme as we prepare to showcase exciting experiences powered by SQL data and generative AI. The ideal starting point for the new generation of AI-ready SQL apps is Azure SQL Database, the fully managed platform-as-a-service (PaaS) database engine that frees developers to focus on innovation.

In this post, we recount a few recent announcements plus a free offer and new video resources that can help you get started innovating with AI and Azure SQL Database.

Innovate at Hyperscale

As AI-driven business models reshape industries, technology leaders have a unique opportunity to use their data to innovate at scale while taking advantage of existing SQL skill sets. For consistent performance at all scales, including AI-assisted applications, we strongly recommend Azure SQL Database Hyperscale.  It’s the service that grows with you, from startup to enterprise, delivering the most flexibility for building intelligent applications. With autoscaling storage, Hyperscale supports a maximum 100 TB database size while providing independently scalable compute and storage resources.  Now available at commercial open source pricing, SQL Database Hyperscale also outpaces Amazon Web Services Aurora PostgreSQL by up to 68 percent in performance and value, according to a recent benchmark study.

And now you can get a single-pane-of-glass view of database performance, configuration, and health with database watcher (in preview), a managed monitoring solution for database services in the Azure SQL family. Database watcher collects monitoring data from the selected databases, elastic pools, and SQL managed instances in near real-time and stores it in a central data store that you can query, use to build custom dashboards, and join with other data sources to generate insights.

Build intelligent applications using generative AI

The close integration between Azure Open AI, Azure AI Search, and Azure SQL Database is driving powerful new use cases. For an example, see AzureSQL_CogSearch_IntegratedVectorization, a sample notebook for a simple product recommendation application based on a database of user reviews. This sample is a great example of how built-in AI support makes it easy to build intelligent applications with Azure SQL Database. The sample demonstrates the cool features of Azure AI Search including integrated vectorization—the ability to do vector search based on data stored in Azure SQL Database.

You can also use Azure SQL Database together with Azure AI Search to train large language models on your data and implement retrieval augmented generation (RAG) patterns so you can run chat models on your data and analyze it faster and more accurately.

To help developers and database administrators make the most of this brave new AI world, new Microsoft Copilot in Azure skills have been introduced to Azure SQL Database that help make the service even easier to configure, manage and optimize. Database administrators will benefit from the ability to quickly resolve issues and further optimize performance with AI assistance.  Developers can work more efficiently when Copilot translates natural language queries into SQL code.  Plus, the ambitious can even build their own RAG-based copilot solution.

Easily integrate SQL data for real-time insights

Innovation in AI, as in analytics, starts with having the right data at the right time. We launched Microsoft Fabric to provide an all-in-one analytics solution that brings all the data scattered across various vendor systems into an integrated environment. And now you can extract insights from your data even faster—without the complex extract, transform, load (ETL) processes—by mirroring Azure SQL Database in Microsoft Fabric. When you replicate a snapshot of your source transactional SQL database in Fabric OneLake, the mirrored data is stored in Delta tables and stays in sync in near-real time, making all that information immediately available for consumption by reporting, advanced analytics, data science, and other applications.

We hear great things from the developers, who enjoy the zero code, zero ETL approach to data integration. They’re using Fabric to test intriguing AI, business intelligence, and data sharing scenarios. If you’d like to help influence the future of SQL and Fabric integrations the product teams want to hear from you.

Seize new opportunities and mitigate threats in the age of AI

No discussion of AI is complete without a look at how to mitigate risks and innovate in a safe, trustworthy, and ethical way. Microsoft is a leader in responsible AI, security, and data governance. Azure is the trusted platform that provides the most comprehensive compliance coverage of any cloud database service. Intelligent threat detection and multilayered security controls help protect your investment in Azure SQL Database, including T-SQL, authentication, networking, and key management. In addition, we now have advanced notifications for planned maintenance event.

Learn more and try it out for free

The best way to start innovating with AI is to do it! For help getting started, check out the following resources:

  • Try Azure SQL Database free of charge. You get 100,000 vCore seconds of compute every month at no charge, and a General Purpose database for the lifetime of your subscription, with up to 32 GB of data.
  • Watch Azure SQL Database Essentials, a series of five bite-sized videos under five minutes each, starting with Azure SQL Database Overview. You’ll learn about connecting and querying, building a modern-AI ready application, optimizing scale and performance, and DevOps.

  • Register now for Microsoft Build, May 21-23, 2024, in Seattle and online, to hear the latest innovations coming to Azure SQL Database and the broader portfolio of Azure database services.


Leave a comment

Feedback usabilla icon