How to migrate your SQL Server Workloads to Azure

There is no doubt that Azure is an incredible platform, but it can lead companies to shy away due to its complexity. It can do a lot, but getting it set up properly is an absolute must in order to take full advantage of it.

Whether you are considering migrating your existing SQL server workloads or deploying new ones, a specialist will be a necessity in order to guide you in making the right decisions.

Migrate SQL Server


Consider Your Options

Every company will be in a slightly different scenario when the time comes to migrate. Fortunately, there are a number of different approaches that can be taken to the migration process in order to ensure it’s as easy as it can be.

The important thing is that your company and the specialist you choose to work with will consider what you are trying to achieve. This will allow them to guide you through the best migration and deployment options that are most suitable for your company.

Basically, you have these options:

  • SQL Server on a Virtual Machine
  • Azure SQL Database
  • Azure SQL Database Elastic Pools
  • Azure SQL Database Managed Instance

You may even wish to migrate to more than one of these platform options. You can learn more about them in this article on server migration and this article on resilience options.

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How To Migrate Your Workloads to Azure

Here at Compete 366, we follow five steps in order to migrate workloads to Azure efficiently and correctly. This is the same roadmap that Microsoft has laid out.

#1 Discovery

The first of the five stages requires us to discover the footprint of your database. In other words, we will take the time to figure out where your existing SQL Servers are currently located. We’ll also need to collect some additional information, like the current version(s) and how many databases you have in addition to their size.

This information will enable us to map the dependencies, thus allowing us to determine the databases that need to be relocated at the same time. The MAP Toolkit provided by Microsoft is an excellent tool that will help us with this process.

#2 Assessment

The next stage is the assessment stage. In this step, we will go through and assess your workload requirements. This will enable us to highlight any dependencies on other systems as well.

The Database Migration Assistant is a free tool that will be utilised to help check for compatibility issues in the databases and to identify any other problems that may prevent your workloads from being properly migrated to Azure. If there are issues, this tool will automatically make recommendations so that we can address them.

This tool may be run multiple times during the process to ensure the source databases are completely compatible before the migration process begins.

#3 Planning

With the databases mapped out and any migration issues pre-sorted, we will now enter into the planning stage. This step is all about getting things in order, like the tools and target platform.

This planning step will help us select which databases to migrate and the order in which we will migrate them.

The simple and low-risk workloads will clearly be migrated first. If you were to do it on your own, Microsoft would definitely recommend this so that your team could gain confidence and experience with the Azure migration process. Typically, we’ll begin with the testing and development systems as these lack dependencies and usually only have a relatively small list of users.

The planning stage will also require us to figure out the resource amount you’ll need to run the migrated workloads in Azure. We’ll work to determine the perfect balance of cost without sacrificing performance.

Finally, we’ll plan out based on your business’ requirements for each workload, for instance:

  • Is downtime acceptable? If so, when and for how long?
  • What are the on-going Availability requirements following migration?
  • What are the on-going Disaster Recovery requirements following migration?

You’ll be involved in this process to ensure we have everything planned appropriately.

#4 Transforming & Optimising

We are finally ready to prepare for migration in the fourth and near final stage. Right before we continue with the migration, we’ll work on transforming and optimising your workloads as needed. This is when we resolve any problems that need to be fixed in order to make things completely compatible.

Additionally, we’ll point out any optimisation tasks that can be completed based on the features of the target platform. The database schemas will be checked and updated, and any version upgrades will also be implemented. More assessment tools will be run before the migration process begins.

#5 Migrating

In the final stage of the process, the migration actually takes place. The plan will be executed.

During the migration, the target platform will be given more resources in order to ensure the migration goes over smoothly. Since the database will be participating in a tremendous amount of write operations, these extra resources will be needed temporarily. Once done, we’ll optimise everything for ongoing usage.

Ready to get started? Contact us for a free discussion with one of our Azure consultants or learn more about what we do here.

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