Microsoft Azure SQL Database is a type of managed cloud database available as part of Microsoft Azure. As a cloud-based database, Azure runs on a cloud computing platform and access is provided as a service. Azure SQL Database is constantly running on the latest stable version of the SQL Server database engine and offers 99 percent availability.
With Azure SQL Database, users can create a high-performance, readily available data storage layer for solutions and applications in Azure. For many growing businesses, SQL Database is the right choice for a variety of modern cloud-based applications, enabling users to process relational and non-relational data and structures, such as XML, spatial, JSON and graphs.
Making the decision to migrate to Azure data platforms can have countless benefits to modern enterprises. Azure Database Migration Service serves as a tool to help businesses accelerate their data migration to Azure. Learn more about Azure SQL Database migration and how it works.
What Is Azure Database Migration Service?
Azure Database Migration Service aims to automate and simplify the transition to Azure by easily migrating data, objects and schema from multiple sources to the cloud. The easy-to-understand process ensures that the migration is done right the first time. Azure Database Migration Service supports MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, MongoDB, PostgreSQL and Oracle migration to Azure from other clouds and on-premises. Outcomes are always reliable and the service is highly resilient and self-healing, resulting in almost zero downtime.
Online vs. Offline Migrations
When SQL Server databases are migrated to Azure using the Azure Database Migration Service, users can perform either an online or offline migration. With offline migration, downtime begins when the migration starts. However, going the online route allows downtime to be limited to the amount of time required to cut over to the new environment once the migration completes. If a business finds an extended period of downtime to be unacceptable, then online migration is the optimal choice.
Migrating Databases To Azure SQL Database
Advances in technology have enabled many companies to optimize their operations and reduce costs. Azure SQL Database migration has been found to be a user-friendly alternative to the high cost of running an SQL server on premises. There are several essential steps in the migration process to Azure SQL Database, including the following:
Before starting the migration process, it is important to confirm compatibility. Microsoft provides several ways to accomplish this task. First, SQL Server Data Tools for Visual Studio (SSDT) uses up to date compatibility guidelines to look for incompatibilities. Using SSDT, users can import their database schema and create a new project for Azure SQL Database deployment. If incompatibilities are discovered, they can typically be resolved within the Visual Studio before being transferred back to the original database.
Another option for confirming compatibility involves the use of a command line tool known as SqlPackage. This tool can be used to create a report that lists compatibility issues. SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is yet another option for checking compatibility. The Expert Data-tier Application feature makes it easy to find and report problems. If any incompatibilities are found, they can typically be corrected in SSMS before migration.
SQL Azure Migration Wizard (SAMW) is a type of Codeplex tool that can be used to look for and fix certain compatibility errors. However, this tool can sometimes find incompatibilities that may not necessarily need to be fixed. Finally, Data Migration Assistant can aid in the migration process. It is also a great tool for making reliability and performance improvements.
Migrate Sample Schema
Once compatibility has been confirmed, use Data Migration Assistant to migrate a sample schema. Create a migration project for just a small amount of the database schema to ensure that the strategy is effective before moving onto a complete migration. The Data Migration Assistance tool makes it easy to migrate only schema by choosing the proper selection under Migration Scope. Choose the SQL Server as the source server and the Azure Server as the destination server; SQL scripts can then be generated and the schema is deployed to the Azure SQL database.
Start a Data Migration Project
The next step in the process involves creating an Azure Database Migration Service instance. This consists of registering a Microsoft Data Migration resource provider and creating a resource using the Service. Create a name for the migration service, select a location, and choose or create a virtual network.
After creating a new migration service, users can start a new migration project in the Azure Portal. Choose the option to start a new migration project and then select the SQL server as the source server and the Azure SQL Server as the destination server. For an online data migration, specify the target database details and source. The migration activity begins when the ‘Run migration’ option is clicked. During the migration, a refresh button allows users to see the status at any given time.
Perform a Migration Cutover
A migration cutover can be executed after the completion of the initial full load. Selecting Start Cutover stops all incoming transactions to the database. A cutover window can last several hours; ensure that it is scheduled during a time when the business is closed, or can accommodate a minimum of four hours of downtime. Network administrators, backup administrators, application owners, server administrators and partners should all be notified of the maintenance window to ensure that they are available to assist if needed.
Engage in Continuous Monitoring
An essential component of Azure SQL database migration is the monitoring. Continuous monitoring allows users to measure performance over time using a wide range of metrics. With an on premises database, tools are available to measure performance, such as SQL Server Management Studio and Task Manager. However, moving a database can make it more difficult to monitor accurately.
Fortunately, the Azure Portal provides a useful chart that can be edited to include a variety of metrics including: CPU %, Blocked by Firewall, DTU limit, DTU used, Database size %, Log I/O %, Deadlocks, Successful Connections, Failed Connections, Workers %, Sessions % and Total Database Size.
Why Move Business Data to an Azure SQL Database?
Many businesses are making the decision to move their business data to the cloud. With the release of Microsoft Azure, this process is now easier than ever. Advancements in SQL Database have also made it possible for businesses of all sizes to scale up, or down, efficiently while saving money. Here are some of the top reasons Azure SQL Database is one of the best options for SQL Server migrations.
1. Flexible Service Plans and Affordable Pricing
Azure provides businesses of all sizes with flexible service plans for SQL Database. In years past, SQL was not a practical solution for smaller businesses due to cost alone. Today, affordable pricing structures allow users to pay as little as $4.99 per month per database with a maximum storage option at 150 GB per database. This gives businesses ample space at a very low price.
2. Cost Savings on Hardware and Software
One of the most noticeable benefits of using the Azure model is the cost savings. Users that move to the cloud no longer have to invest in expensive on-site hardware, helping to improve budgeting and increase cash flow. Businesses that migrate to the cloud also do not have to worry about depreciation, replacement and other concerns surrounding their assets. Azure can help companies save on software costs by allowing Microsoft SQL Server license holders to extend their software licenses to the cloud.
3. Enhanced Performance and Scalability
Azure is considered a highly flexible and scalable model that can quickly create additional instances to accommodate seasonal ebbs, traffic spikes or rapidly growing apps or websites. One of the top considerations to make when migrating to the cloud is the size of the SQL database. Azure offers a maximum single database storage size of between 1 and 4 TB, depending on location. Partitioning data across multiple instances can help users scale their cloud implementation beyond this maximum. This is what gives SQL Azure a performance edge over other database-as-a-service (DBaaS) options.
4. Improved Security for Sensitive Data Environments
DBaaS has proven to be the ideal option for rapid development scenarios, proof of concepts, testing environments and business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR). Businesses that are responsible for storing, receiving or transmitting highly sensitive data that requires extensive security may want to consider making the move to the Azure cloud model based initially on these fronts. Azure offers a range of enterprise-class security solutions for businesses, such as sophisticated access restrictions, network firewalls, encryption services and prompt security patches and updates.
5. Supplement Existing Models with BCDR
Some businesses may not be ready to move entirely to the Azure cloud but may want to take the first steps to adopting cloud technology. This is possible using the Azure DBaaS model to supplement the existing on-premise hardware instead of completely replacing it. When Azure is used as part of a BCDR strategy, a duplicate cloud database can automatically engage whenever the traffic exceeds the on-site hardware’s capacity. Azure offers innovative tools to make this process easy, such as the Azure Site Recovery (ASR) tool that allows businesses to transition their traffic to the cloud when an outage occurs.
Speak With An Experienced Custom Software Developer
Azure SQL Database is a fully-managed cloud relational database that shares the same code as regular SQL Servers but with new features that are released to Azure first. To learn more about how Azure SQL Database migration works, or to speak with an experienced custom software developer about moving to the cloud, contact Orases today.