Link feature for Azure SQL Managed Instance: Connecting SQL Server 2022 to the cloud, reimagined

Part of the SQL Server 2022 blog series.

We are excited to announce general availability of the link feature for Managed Instance for SQL Server 2022–the most Azure-enabled release of SQL Server yet. We are also excited to announce a limited preview of the managed disaster recovery (DR) to Azure SQL Managed Instance.


The link feature, announced in the March SQL Server 2022 preview, is reimagining the connection between SQL Server hosted anywhere and the fully managed platform as a service (PaaS) service Azure SQL Managed Instance, providing unprecedented hybrid flexibility and database mobility. With an approach that uses near real-time data replication to Azure using Always On technology, you can now scale workloads, or analytics to read-only secondaries in Azure to take advantage of a fully managed database platform, performance, and scale.

Modernize in Azure

The link can be operated for as long as you need it–months and years at a time, empowering you to get all the modern benefits of Azure today without migrating to the cloud. For example, you can use integrated machine learning services in Managed Instance to run analytics on SQL Server databases replicated to the instance using the link. You can also relay on the automated short-term and long-term backups of up to 10 years for your replicated SQL Server databases to Managed Instance in Azure Backup, reducing the management and operational costs of on-premises infrastructure.


The link is secure, as VPN or Express Route (Azure’s premium VPN) is used to connect SQL Server to Managed Instance via a private endpoint. Data transmitted over the wire is encrypted, and we also support replication of transparent data encryption–encrypted-encrypted databases providing an additional layer of security. The link was built to be resilient, in case of the network being down, SQL Server being rebooted, or maintained, or in case of some other issue, the link will automatically resume replicating where it has left off once the issue has been resolved.

Migration benefits

On your modernization journey, when and if you are ready to migrate to the cloud, the link de-risks your migration experience allowing you to validate your workloads in Azure prior to migrating with a seamless and instant experience, and at your own pace. The link also provides the best minimum downtime solution to migrate from SQL Server to Managed Instance. Further de-risk your migrations with our backup portability making it possible to take backups on Managed Instance and restore them back to SQL Server 2022.

Experience the link today with a fully integrated easy-to-use experience in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) 19.0 and above. Learn more at the Link feature for Azure SQL Managed Instance.

Diagram of Managed Instance link
Figure 1: Link feature for Managed Instance—the ultimate hybrid experience for SQL Server

Managed Disaster Recovery (preview)

We have seen a tremendous interest for the disaster recovery (DR) feature through our SQL Server 2022 Early Adoption Program (EAP) with hundreds of companies applying to preview the feature. With the managed disaster recovery feature you can ensure uptime, connecting SQL Server 2022 to Managed Instance in Azure—a fully managed PaaS. Managed DR allows you to spend less time on setup and management compared to an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) environment.

Diagram showing managed DR and Managed Instance
Figure 2: Managed DR in the cloud between SQL Server 2022 and Managed Instance

The DR feature can also be used to further de-risk your migrations to Azure, as it allows an online failback from Managed Instance back to SQL Server 2022 with minimum downtime. With a fully integrated SSMS experience—at this time available to preview participants—complexity of running your own DR is reduced to only a few clicks away.

SQL query role states
DR for the link feature
Figure 3: DR for the link feature in preview version of SSMS

To apply for participation in the limited public preview of the DR for the link feature, sign up below: 

For more technical information about the MI link and the DR feature, see The Ultimate Freedom of Movement between SQL Server 2022 and Managed Instance blog post on Microsoft Tech Community. 

Learn more