The Microsoft SQL Server Team has outlined why they believe Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services is "the ideal place" to implement cost effective development and testing of new SQL Server applications, as well as hybrid cloud activities related to database backup. Key benefits to using Azure services, according to Microsoft, include:

1. Critical updates for SQL Server are enabled by default.

2. Your SQL Server running in an Azure virtual machine (VM) always receives critical updates upon release.

3. Additional VM sizes to choose from.

4. VMs have access to more cores and more memory for larger SQL Server workloads.

5. Ability to expand VMs with SQL Server 2014 in-memory OLTP.

6. You can utilize more vCPUs in parallel for increased number of concurrent users to increase transactional performance.

7. Opportunity to extent SQL Server business continuity with the ability to select which Azure datacenters on which to place AlwaysOn secondaries.

8. Ability to improve business intelligence (BI) performance by offloading BI reporting from your primary to closest Azure secondary.

9. Cost savings through economies-of-scale by taking advantage of Azure datacenter.

10. Azure ExpressRoute offers a secure, dedicated connection to Microsoft Azure.

11. Faster SQL Server backups to Azure storage using the SQL Server cloud backup capability offered in SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014.

12. Improved hybrid business continuity with the ability to combine SQL Server AlwaysOn with ExpressRoute.

13. Improved recovery point object (RPO) by reducing the potential for data loss in asynchronous mode and improved recovery time objective (RTO).

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Are you convinced it's time to advantage of Azure? What are the barriers or major concerns that prevent you from implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services?

Read more from the Microsoft SQL Server Team Blog, "Why SQL Server runs best on Microsoft Azure."

Related: Setup SQL Server AlwaysOn Replicas in Microsoft Azure