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Migrating SQL to Azure

Migrating SQL to Azure is just one aspect of the current surge of migrations as everyone makes the transition to the cloud, but it is an important one. Migrating SQL databases to Azure ensures data protection, security and business continuity amongst other things.

Most CTOs, CIOs and IT Managers are familiar with the common challenges of running on-premises databases. Between data security, the technical team needed to manage it, the limitations of your infrastructure and more, migrating SQL Server to Azure SQL is the solution to your problems.

SQL on Azure

Increased Security Available on Azure SQL

Databases require stringent security due to the information stored within them. The data is often sensitive and thereby covered by data protection laws. No data scientist or IT Manager needs a lecture on security, as it is usually of the highest importance.

One of the reasons you chose SQL Server originally was probably its unrivalled security. Well, this hasn’t changed, with Azure providing multiple layers of security with complete adherence to industry security guidelines.

In the early days of the cloud, it was often thought of as the less secure option, which is no longer the case and Microsoft takes its Azure infrastructure security seriously. As well as the internal security of the infrastructure, there is a wide array of security capabilities available to you. Controls that you can customise to increase security for your applications. Azure security is extensive and if you want more details this security documentation provides an excellent overview.

Azure SQL Security

What about a Hybrid Solution for SQL Database?

Key reasons given by enterprise organisations for why they are still on-premises usually relates to size, power and cost.

This is understandable when you look at the sheer size of some of these databases. If you have a 50TB database, even with a very fast internet connection, getting it up to the cloud is going to take a very long time. Yes, you can move it gradually while the on-premises system is still live, but this, unfortunately just adds to the complexity.

Disk speed is usually the breaker though. Disk speed is measured in IOPs (Input/Output Operations / Second) and we have heard a number of times from clients with large critical databases that they have 50000 IOPS on-premises and that they can’t match that in the cloud.

With SQL Azure you can expect to get about 500 IOPS per CPU core. With a Virtual Machine (VM) and a normal SSD disk, you can expect 6000 IOPS. Azure does now have ultra-disks that can be used with a VM and so it is possible at a price to achieve high IOPs, up to 160,000 as defined in the previous article.

With those factors in mind, you can see how in certain scenarios going hybrid, can give you the best of both worlds.Hybrid Data Platform

There is no other system that will give you an easier transition than migrating SQL Server to Azure SQL because that’s how it has been designed. Microsoft is consistent, using the same code base on Azure and on-premises. That means you can extend Azure capabilities to on-premises environments and maintain on-premise licences you have already invested in.

This blog explores some further reasons to choose Microsoft for your hybrid data platform: Three reasons to choose Microsoft for your hybrid data platform – Microsoft SQL Server Blog

The Cost Benefits of Migrating SQL to Azure

The first and most evident cost-benefit of migrating SQL to Azure is that you no longer need to invest in onsite hardware. Instead of planning for infrastructure expenses, you only have the ongoing operating expense of your Azure database.

With no deprecation and replacements to plan for, there is already significant savings, but additionally, there is less risk. When in the cloud, you have the flexibility to change architecture and increase or decrease database use rapidly without being stuck with the hardware you invested in.

Lastly, Microsoft cloud datacentres are using the best hardware around, likely not what you could afford when buying hardware yourself. So, with no personal investment, every time Microsoft invest, you reap the rewards.

Azure SQL cost benefits

As you can see as well as Azure SQL being the obvious choice for SQL Server migration, it is also the cheaper option. So, it is a win for your pocket as well as your database.

If you would like to estimate your cost savings of migrating SQL to Azure, use this pricing calculator: Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator | Microsoft Azure

Migrating SQL Database to Azure at Ballard Chalmers

As Microsoft Gold partners in the Data Platform and Cloud Platform and with years of experience with SQL Server, we are uniquely placed to help you make the most of Azure and to aid you in achieving the best solution for your SQL database.

We are currently doing a migration from SQL Server in a virtual machine, to SQL Azure for The ID Register. The primary driver was to ensure that the data is encrypted at rest for security reasons. It was not previously because SQL Server Standard edition did not support it. Additionally, having the database as a service reduces maintenance overhead.

Many of our new clients are being moved to SQL Azure as part of the custom development work. Including Avison Young, MSI and Sedgemoor District Council.

In Closing

If last year taught us anything, it is that the cloud is essential for business continuity. With all the available benefits of Azure SQL, it makes sense to migrate SQL databases to Azure SQL as soon as you are able.

As well as a sound strategy for cloud migration, you also need a strong technical partner. That’s where we can help.

We aim to be a seamless extension of your team, keeping business objectives and budget top of mind while helping you make the most of what Azure has to offer.

Get in touch or find out more about our work in SQL Server lead by me, Geoff Ballard pioneer SQL consultant since the very first beta release.

Post Terms: Azure SQL | Data | Hybrid | On-Premises | Security | SQL Server

About the Author

As Co-Founder of Ballard Chalmers, Geoff is the company’s CTO, directing technical strategy, overseeing technical consultants, managing larger development projects and ensuring technical delivery quality standards.

Education, Membership & Awards

Geoff graduated from the University of London with a BSc (Hons) in Mathematics and computing and a Masters degree in Database Management Systems. Additionally, he is a certified SQL Server Development, Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) and Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist (MCTS).

His professional memberships include Charted Engineer (Software), Member of the British Computer Society (MBCS), Member of European Federation of Engineers (FEANI) and Fellow of the Institute of Analysts and Programmers (FIAP).


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