Migrating a SQL Server database to Windows Azure

The cloud services available in Windows Azure make a compelling case for their use. Redundancy, scalability, quick-to-market provisioning, and secure, available-anywhere accessibility combine to set the high bar established by cloud computing in general. Organizations must look for ways to avoid hardware and software management, and cloud platforms like Windows Azure provide this way out.

The two primary relational database storage options available currently in Windows Azure (either Azure SQL Database or a Virtual Machine with SQL Server) are proven alternatives to on-site SQL Server licensing costs, installation, and maintenance. Management should look to the Windows Azure platform for any new projects involving SQL Server. But what about legacy databases that run on site at the company? Are those good candidates for cloud migration? Depending on volume, service level agreements, and other factors, the answer is yes: the company should seriously consider migrating existing databases onto Windows Azure.

As noted previously there are two different approaches that can be taken with relational data storage in Windows Azure: either the Azure SQL Database option or the Virtual Machine with SQL Server option. This article does not intend to go into the pros and cons of these two options, but the reader is encouraged to look at this article, which provides that analysis. If the choice is to go with a Virtual Machine with SQL Server, then the following tutorial for database migration to the cloud is not applicable; migrating databases to a VM with SQL Server is usually easier. But if an Azure SQL Database makes more sense, then the video below will walk you through the steps of this migration.

SQL Server 2014 will contain an easy-to-use wizard-based tool for moving on-premises databases to Windows Azure, but (as of this writing) most firms using SQL Server still have their data assets on older versions of the database software. The following video will demonstrate the use of the SQL Database Migration Wizard, which will move both the schema and the data from a SQL Server 2008 database to Windows Azure. Because there are dependencies on SQL Server libraries, the tool will need to run on the server or workstation where the SQL Server instance is installed.

Here are the prerequisites and resources utilized in the video:

Watch full resolution video here.