If Microsoft is to succeed in making Azure its future, it needs to bring developers to its cloud platform. That would be easy if we were back in the early days of the PC, when it was still possible to build and lock in an ecosystem. But we live in a world were developers have choice, and where they choose the appropriate tools for the tasks at hand, mixing and matching proprietary and open source tools.

Azure’s original approach made that hard to deliver, with only a limited number of services supported. So developers went where there was flexibility, to and its virtual infrastructures. Microsoft’s resulting pivot to Azure supporting simplified bringing your own tools and services, but like AWS, you were only using Azure as a managed data center, hosting your VMs and your data.

As Azure continues to evolve, and as models based on and replace lift-and-shift monolithic VM-based architectures, it’s begun a slow shift back to PaaS. In line with the rest of the industry that’s also led to Azure offering new platform services that can replace applications running on VMs.

Azure’s return to PaaS goes through database services

Perhaps the most obvious of these changes has been the launch of a series of managed database services, offering simpler billing models and less administrative overhead than running your own database VMs. With a managed database service, you can bring existing application back ends to the cloud, ready for use with newer application development models, without having to manage your database infrastructure and storage.

Azure’s managed databases include popular open source databases, as well as Microsoft’s own SQL Server. One of the more important services is its managed MariaDB instances, letting you run databases on Azure, simplifying ports and upgrades of older web applications. To help increase confidence in its platform, Azure has become a Platinum-level sponsor of the MariaDB Foundation, helping fund development and taking part in the community.