Choosing Between SQL Management Studio vs. Azure Data Studio

Choosing between SQL Management Studio and Azure Data Studio boils down to deciding between a trusted classic and an innovative contender, with SQL Management Studio offering familiarity and robustness while Azure Data Studio brings cloud-powered versatility.” – Jacob Saunders, Executive Vice President of Professional Services, Atmosera

Organizing data is a popular problem for business owners. Employees need to find the information they need without spending hours searching. Many companies will create a database to solve this problem. However, there are several options for data management. Two options you can compare are SQL Management Studio vs. Azure Data Studio.

If you’re using Microsoft Azure already, the choice is obvious. Azure Data Studio is made to work with other Azure tools. Therefore, integrating it into your IT environment will be a comparatively easy job. Although Azure Data Studio isn’t exclusive to Azure environments, it’s still a great option for businesses using other cloud platforms.

This article is here to help you weigh the pros and cons of each platform. This knowledge should help you make a more informed decision when it comes time to choose your database system.

What is SQL Management Studio?

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is a software tool for configuring and managing Microsoft SQL Server. It provides the graphical tools and script editors that developers need to interact with, manipulate, and manage SQL Server databases.

Use Cases

SSMS really shines in environments where detailed control and extensive database management is required. Its strength lies in its ability to manage highly complex and large-scale databases. So, there are situations where you may opt for SSMS over Data Studio.

  1. Huge Databases
    SSMS is designed to handle complex database administration tasks in big environments. Data Studio can handle it too, but SSMS is uniquely tailored to this exact situation. Its advanced capabilities are built to help you navigate and manage intricate database structures.
  2. Performance Tuning
    SSMS comes with sophisticated tools that provide granular insights into database performance. This lets you fine-tune your database to optimize efficiency. If that’s a big concern for you, you may choose SSMS.
  3. Complex Data Reporting
    SSMS provides advanced data analysis and reporting features like SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). If your work involves complex data analysis or requires detailed report generation, SSMS may be a good fit.

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What is Azure Data Studio?

Azure Data Studio (formerly known as SQL Operations Studio) is Microsoft Azure’s cross-platform tool for managing SQL databases. It’s a comparatively lightweight and user-friendly SQL coding environment, and this is by design. The goal of Data Studio is to help simplify the complex task of database administration.

Use Cases

Due to its cross-platform nature, it’s ideal for data environments that involve both cloud-based and on-premise data. It’s also well-suited for networks that involve both Mac and Windows computers. You also may opt for Data Studio over SSMS in the following scenarios.

  1. Cross-Platform Development
    Azure Data Studio runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS, making it a champion of flexibility. This extends to your developers as well as your users. Comparatively, SSMS is Windows only. So, if you use any operating system other than Windows, the choice is obvious.
  2. Azure-First Environments
    Azure Data Studio is specifically designed to integrate smoothly with other Azure services. This means you can easily manage your Azure cloud databases and on-premise ones all within the same environment. It also means you can leverage other Azure features seamlessly.
  3. Customization Requirements
    Data Studio comes with a marketplace full of extensions, allowing you to tailor the tool to your unique needs. This adaptability also means that you can quickly add new functionalities to the system as your project demands.

Azure Data Studio vs. SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio): Key Differences

Azure Data Studio SQL Management Studio
Description A free tool that helps you manage databases on SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, and Azure Synapse SQL pools​ A tool that helps you set up and manage databases on SQL Server
Platforms Windows, macOS, and Linux Windows only
Interface Design Modern interface, user-friendly for database beginners Traditional interface, potentially easier for experienced SQL Server professionals
Languages Supports Microsoft-specific data access and analysis languages (T-SQL, DMX, MDX, ASSL), as well as Scala, R, and Python Primarily supports Microsoft-specific data access and analysis languages (T-SQL, DMX, MDX, ASSL)
Features Built-in support for features such as IntelliSense, source control, extensions, and notebooks. Works well with Git and Jupyter notebooks Wide range of capabilities including Query Editor, Object Explorer, Backup and Restore, Security management, Database Maintenance, and Scripting
Extensibility You can add more features from first- and third-party extensions. It can also work with MySQL and PostgreSQL databases​ Not natively extensible, but you can use some third-party tools and frameworks to add features

Ask Us How You Can Make The Most of Azure Data Studio

Decided that Azure Data Studio is the right pick? There’s a lot more to learn about it beyond the scope of this article. If you’re looking for some tips, tricks, guidance, or experts who can take the wheel, consider a managed Azure service provider.

Atmosera is 1 of only 8 Microsoft Gold Azure MSPs in the world. When you choose us, you know that you’re getting top-tier, premium service that will make your Azure data environment shine. Ask us how you can leverage Data Studio and make the most of every tool in your Azure suite.

We deliver solutions that accelerate the value of Azure.

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