From Sega’s Dreamcast to Microsoft’s Azure SQL

On September 9th, 1999, Sega launched the Dreamcast in the states. Being a die hard Sega fan, I of course pre-ordered it to start my marketed to 128-bit journey. A few years later in 2002, the original Xbox came out. I did pass on this (sorry Xbox) in favor of other consoles at the time but fast forward to Black Friday of 2006. I was awake early because we had a puppy that needed to go out, so I figured I’d run down to Circuit City for some early deals; I ended up with an Xbox 360.

How does this relate to Azure SQL or the present timeline? When signing up for Xbox Live way back in 2006, I created a Microsoft Account. And using this very same account, I was able to log directly into Azure and create an Azure SQL Database.

Now if this is your first-time logging into Azure, you can sign and start with $200 in free credits to start trying things out. But, if you have already used up the credits or let them expire, no worries, creating a using an Azure SQL database is actually quite inexpensive.

Navigating the Azure Portal

In the Azure portal Home page, just click on either Create a resource or SQL databases on the menu bar across the top.

If you clicked Create a resource, you will land on the Getting Started area and see SQL Database.

If not, just click on the Databases Category and find SQL Database.

Whichever method you found SQL Database, now click Create………but before you do, you could always just use the quick, quick way. By clicking this link, you can use the Select SQL deployment option page to create your SQL Database.

Just select Single Database as the Resource type in the SQL Databases tile and click Create.

Create an Azure SQL Database

On the first page of the Create SQL Database flow, select your Azure Subscription you want to use (more than likely if you are using a personal account, there is only 1 subscription) and then a Resource Group.

You may need to create a new resource group if one is not already there. Think of them as groupings or collections of Azure Resources that can share properties, lifecycles, projects or security features.

Next up are the Database Details. Here we need to provide details of the database name, the logical server we want to use, and the amount of compute + storage we want to use. Database name is simple enough and ill even let you copy my innovative name of MyCoolSQLDatabase.

If this is your first SQL Database, you will need to create a server. Just click the Create new link under the Server select list.

Clicking Create new will start the Create SQL Database Server flow in a slide out blade. This is just a logical server and not a physical one when using a single Azure SQL Database.

Start by giving your server a unique name and a location. Here I’ll call it coolserver123 and use the East US region.

Authentication is next. Here let’s keep it simple and use the radio button next to Use SQL authentication. Then for Server admin login, we can use sqladmin. Finally, set a strong password.

When done, click OK on the bottom left of the page.

Back on the Create SQL Database page, set Elastic Pool to No and Workload environment to Development.

Compute + storage is up next, and this is also going to dictate how much our database will cost once the free credits are done or if you no longer have free credits.

But wait! Are you saying I have to pay for this? Well, yes BUT it can be as little as $4.90 a month. Seeing we are using our Xbox account here, let’s be honest. We buy games on sale all the time for more that go into our backlogs that we never play…I am 100% guilty of this. I can look at my Steam Library and tell you that at one point I thought getting American Truck Simulator on sale was a good idea. Again, even $4.90 a month can be out of the reach of some people so next blog post ill address that with a free alternative.

Start by clicking on Configure database to bring up the Service and compute tier page. Set the Service tier to Basic under DTU-bases purchasing model in the select list.

This is going to allow you to create an Azure SQL Database for only $4.90 a month.

Once this is selected, click the Apply button on the lower left of the page.

The last item on the page is Backup storage redundancy. Set the radio button to Locally-redundant backup storage.

That’s it, now click the Review + create button on the bottom of the page

and then the Create button on the following page.

In a few short minutes, you will have your very own $5 Azure SQL Database instance up and running. What’s also great about this database is that you get all the support resources you need; no “oh this is free, deal with it” or “No support for you!”.

Cost Management

Azure provides you with tools to ensure you don’t go over budget and see exactly what you are spending at anytime. Back on the Azure Portal Home Page, in the tools section, you can find Cost Management.

Go ahead and click that tile.

On the Cost Management page, find Budgets. For a shortcut, you can always use the Azure Portal search bar and find services directly. For example, put Budgets in the search bar and you can go directly to that service.

On the Budgets page, start by clicking the Scope button.

And on the Select Scope blade, select your subscription and then the resource group where your Azure SQL Database is located. Click on the Resource Group then click Select in the lower left of the blade.

Back on the Budget page, click the Add button.

On the Create budget page,

give your budget a name and then a reset period. The reset period is the time period that applies to the budget. We can use Monthly here. Leave the defaults for the Create and Expiration dates.

Provide a dollar amount in the Budget Amount section. This amount will be used to trigger alerts and actions. Then click Next on the bottom left of the page.

The following page will allow you to create alerts and actions when a percentage threshold it reached. In the Alert conditions section, set a percentage to trigger the alert.

We can also set Action Groups here.

Learn more about Action Groups here: Create and manage action groups in the Azure portal

Add one or multiple email addresses in the Alert recipient section and you can choose language for all alerts in the Language preference section. Once done, click Create on the lower left of the page.


Using the same account you created with Xbox Live, Azure lets you not only create a low cost database, but to manage the costs associated with it as well. Use a general purpose Azure SQL database for less than $5 a month with all the benefits of the cloud and receive support. Azure Cost Management lets you create budgets and alerts so that costs stay predictable in within your expenses; no surprises or high bills with no insights on how they got there.

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