With the release candidates coming thick and fast for SQL Server 2016 downloading, uninstalling the previous version and installing the latest can be a little bit tedious.
A less timing consuming option to trying the latest is to use Microsoft Azure. If you have an Azure subscription you can spin up a VM using one of Microsoft’s pre-built images in a very short amount of time.
There is a cost to using Microsoft Azure but a Windows vm on the basic tier is only a few pounds per month.
If you have an MSDN subscription you receive a monthly allowance that is bundled into your subscription. This is what I use for my Azure testing work.
If you company has embraced the cloud already then you may have access to that or you may have to spend a few € or £ or whatever your currency to use. Unless of course you can get a free trial which if you are new to the cloud and Azure Microsoft are normally happy to let your trail it for free for a while.
Once you have your Azure account sign in at https://portal.azure.com/ and sign in
From the portal home page click on the + New link, then Virtual Machines and scroll down to SQL Server.
Click on the SQL Server option and you will be presented with a list of servers offering different versions of Windows and SQL Server.
To get to SQL Server 2016 you might need to click on the “Load More” option. At the time of writing SQL Server 2016 RC1 has been released (it was released for download yesterday 21/3/2016) although it's not yet available in the gallery of VMs.
I chose SQL Server 2016 RC0 Evaluation on Windows Server 2012 R2. Accept the default settings and click create
On the basic settings screen you need to enter the following details
• A Name for the server
• An administrator Username - used to login to the vm
• Your Subscription – This will be prefilled with your subscription.
• Resource Group - This is used for managing resources. I used the default resource group for the purpose of this demo
• Location - accepted my default which was Northern Europe
The size screen allows you to specify the size of the server.
Basically allow you to choose the resources available to your VM. Just remember the more you choose here, the more the VM will cost!
I clicked View all and scrolled to the Basic section I chose A1 basic - the cheapest and least resources Azure VM size.
Click Select to continue
On the settings page you can select
o Disk type
o Storage account
o Virtual account
o Public IP address
o Network security
o Diagnostics - enabled by default
o Diagnostic storage account - where to store the diagnostic data
I accepted the defaults on this screen and clicked OK. For a demo these are fine.
The next section is the SQL Server Settings page
SQL Connectivity - you have three options
o Local - inside the VM only
o Private - with a virtual network
o Public - connect from the internet
o I left this as the default 1433 you can change this if you wish
o So I can connect from SSMS and because I don't have AD setup I will enable SQL Authentication
o Specify a username and password
o This was disabled for me - I think because of the spec of VM that I chose above
o This can be enabled or disabled. If it enabled to get to specify your patching window
Automated Backups for me are disabled, again down to the spec of the VM selected. However you can get your database backed up automatically
Azure Key Vault Integration I will leave disabled
Finally validation will run and you will get a summary screen click OK and the deployment will built. Allow a little bit of time for this to complete.