As more and more customers are interested in moving some portion of their BI/analytics workloads to cloud services, one question that comes up occasionally is whether or not you should start with a marketplace image that has SQL Server already installed. So far I’ve noted a few key considerations for this decision:
Do you want to pay for the SQL Server license as part of the VM pricing?
Do you want to configure SQL Server in a specific way (i.e., following best practices)?
Do you want Azure to handle things like automated patching by default?
My rule of thumb is if it’s Express Edition or just for me to mess around with, I’m typically happy with an image. But for a production setup, I’d want the fine-grained control at installation time that you just won’t get.