Today Microsoft announced the general availability of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, which includes Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks to keep your Windows Azure connected to your on-premises infrastructure and applications.

Windows Azure Infrastructure Services provide the robust cloud infrastructure that is needed to run SQL Server and many of the applications that rely on SQL Server. With Windows Azure Virtual Machines, Virtual Networks, Data Sync services and full SQL Server compatibility you can now enable the following scenarios:

    • Develop & Test SQL Server Applications in Windows Azure

With full SQL Server compatibility you can develop your SQL Server application quickly, while reducing costs of provisioning additional hardware. In addition you can choose to deploy your new application in Windows Azure or back on-premises with minimal effort.

    • Move your Existing On-Premises SQL Server Applications

Virtual Machines offer many compute and memory configurations to choose from, you can find the one that fits your existing on-premises SQL Server application requirements. For example, your existing departmental SQL Server Line of Business applications that have already been virtualized are good candidates to move to Windows Azure. Once you have selected the appropriate configuration, Windows Azure makes moving your on-premises application easy with Azure tools, or if you have the latest version of System Center, you can use that as well to upload to Azure. Again, with full SQL Server compatibility you can utilize features like Transparent Data Encryption for database security, Full Text Search and AlwaysOn for high availability of your databases running in Virtual Machines.

    • Backup & Restore on-premises SQL Server Databases

Using a combination of Windows Azure Storage and Virtual Machines, you can create a cost effective way to backup and restore your on-premises SQL Server databases. With the recent SQL Server 2012 SP1 CU2 update, you can now backup and restore directly to a Windows Azure Storage URL, making it a one step process to backup and restore to Azure.

    • Unlock Hybrid SQL Server Scenarios

Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks unlock new hybrid application scenarios where an instance of SQL Server running on-premises is connected to a SQL Server instance running in Windows Azure Virtual Machines for additional on-demand scale and broader global reach with worldwide Azure datacenters. In addition, Windows Azure can uniquely provide you the type of support that is needed for hybrid applications by fully supporting both your on-premises SQL Server instances and SQL Server instances running in Windows Azure Virtual Machines. This significantly simplifies troubleshooting any hybrid scenarios where it may not be clear initially if the issue is with the on-premises instance or the cloud instance.

    • Create Multi-Tiered Cloud Applications

You can create multi-tiered cloud applications in Windows Azure where the core database tier utilizes SQL Server running in a Virtual Machine, and the application tier uses Windows Azure SQL Database (formerly known as SQL Azure) as a temporary database for the application tier to take advantage of its unique, dynamic scale-out capabilities.

SQL Server is the ideal data platform for your Hybrid IT environment as it enables end-to-end data platform scenarios that span on-premises and cloud. The scenarios above represent just the beginning of what you can do with SQL Server on-premises and Windows Azure Infrastructure Services in the cloud. Go to the Infrastructure Services page on to try these SQL Server scenarios today.

In coming weeks, you will find more in-depth blogs covering each of the above SQL Server scenarios as well as best practices when it comes to optimizing security, high availability and performance of your SQL Server applications running in Windows Azure Virtual Machines. You can also reference best practice documentation on MSDN for implementing the SQL Server scenarios in Windows Azure Virtual Machines. We hope you are as excited as we are about this release!