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I am building a system that processes articles from news websites and pushes the content to an analytics engine. The majority of the Azure cost from an SQL database.

This database is used to store a list of the urls to different websites. Each row is the name of the news source and the matching url link. If one wishes to add a news source, a new row is added manually. So the number of records is very little and stay like so when productionising, i.e. in alpha phase now, we have about 5 records, long term we may have 100-200 records maximum.

The bulk of the database cost comes from the read-write operations that happen frequently (every 15 seconds, all the rows are updated).

We feel like there should be a cheaper alternative Azure resource to store this little amount of data, rather than an expensive SQL database. A no SQL database somewhere, a simple JSON file that can be hosted somewhere on Azure, etc...?

What are your thoughts?

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You may be describing a key value store. It is unlikely that you need SQL or relational.

To avoid vendor-lock-in, and to control your costs. Avoid complex services from the cloud providers. Rent a machine or virtual machine from them, and put your own services on it. There are many Free and Open Source databases. Do some research: start with key-value stores (these are the simplest, fastest, but also low functionality, databases).

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Why not spin up a virtual machine (ec2) and install a LAMP server on it.

MySQL server is free and the EC2 instance should be way cheaper than the SQL server.

(We do this on AWS; should work on Azure, too.)

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If you want to keep with almost no code/syntax changes because adapting to another database engine, you can just boot a small VM with SQL Server 2019 Express edition on it.

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You can use Storage Account Table.

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