Cloud computing is one of the fastest-growing enterprise technologies. Online data storage is particularly popular with organizations looking for better alternatives to on-premise data centers and servers. In fact, more and more organizations are recognizing the benefits of moving databases from on-prem facilities to a public or hybrid cloud infrastructure. According to Statista, 50 percent of all corporate data already resides in the cloud. The adoption of cloud storage systems has grown drastically over the last couple of years and continues to grow still.

Microsoft’s SQL Server Database is a favourite solution among enterprises keen on leveraging cloud storage. The Microsoft SQL Server ranks among the top-rated cloud-based data management systems. It’s a general-purpose relational DBMS with numerous data storage, processing, and analytics applications in a corporate setting. The server is part of the Azure Cloud Platform and can be used within the Azure environment or as a standalone DBMS for third-party apps.

What makes Microsoft’s SQL Server Database so popular? To answer that, let’s look at the main business advantages of moving your SQL database to Azure.

What is Azure Cloud?

Azure Cloud

Azure Cloud, a service offered by Microsoft, is a cloud computing platform that provides a wide array of services, including those for analytics, storage, and networking. It allows businesses to build, deploy, and manage applications through Microsoft-managed data centers. Azure Cloud supports a range of operating systems, programming languages, tools, and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems.

Azure Cloud is more than just a cloud storage solution. It’s a comprehensive platform that provides businesses with the tools they need to manage their data effectively. From data storage and backup to data analysis and machine learning, Azure Cloud offers a range of services designed to help businesses make the most of their data.

Key Features of Azure Cloud

Azure Cloud offers a range of features that make it a top choice for businesses looking to manage their data in the cloud. Here are some of the key features:

  1. Scalability: Azure Cloud allows businesses to scale their data storage needs on demand. This means you only pay for what you use, and you can adjust your usage at any time to suit your needs.
  2. Security: Azure Cloud has robust security measures in place to protect your data. It uses a combination of encryption, secure networks, and strong access controls to keep your data safe.
  3. Compliance: Azure Cloud complies with a range of international and industry-specific compliance standards, including GDPR, ISO 27001, and HIPAA. This makes it a safe choice for businesses in regulated industries.
  4. Analytics: Azure Cloud offers powerful analytics tools that allow businesses to gain insights from their data. These tools can help you make data-driven decisions to improve your business.

Azure Cloud and SQL Databases

Azure Cloud offers a robust platform for managing SQL databases. It provides all the tools you need to store, manage, and analyze your data, all in one place. With Azure Cloud, you can easily scale your database to handle large volumes of data, ensure your data is secure with robust security measures, and gain insights from your data with powerful analytics tools.

Azure SQL Database is a fully managed platform as a service (PaaS) Database Engine that handles most of the database management functions such as upgrading, patching, backups, and monitoring without user involvement. Azure SQL Database is always running on the latest stable version of the SQL Server database engine and patched OS with 99.99% availability. PaaS capabilities that are built into Azure SQL Database enable you to focus on the domain-specific database administration and optimization activities that are critical for your business.

Key Takeaways:

  • Azure Cloud is a comprehensive cloud platform that offers a range of services for managing data.
  • It provides scalability, security, compliance, and powerful analytics tools.
  • Azure Cloud offers a robust platform for managing SQL databases, making it a top choice for businesses looking to manage their data in the cloud.

Benefits Of Moving Your Database to Azure Cloud

Immense cost savings

One of the main reasons businesses migrate to the cloud is to reduce IT capital investments and overheads. Switching to Azure SQL Database cuts your IT costs by eliminating the need for expensive data handling software and hardware. Plus, you won’t incur any maintenance costs for servicing, updates, or upgrades. In short, you get a robust database system for a fraction of the price without compromising performance.

Additionally, Azure DBaaS (Database as a Service) subscription plans are priced based on the client’s preferred database performance level and features. There is an ideal package for any volume or structure of data. Microsoft provides a DTU (Database Transaction Unit)-based purchase model starting with a Basic 5 DTUs tier for only $6.9 per month. You also have a choice of vCore packages and several other pricing and cost optimization options.

Dependable data security

Data security is a growing and valid concern among businesses hosting their data on the cloud. Cybercriminals are turning their attention to cloud services. Plus, threats are increasingly becoming sophisticated and dangerous. But despite this, cloud storage remains the safest way to keep corporate data. A majority of the 500+ IT leaders and executives who took part in a Deloitte survey ranked cybersecurity and data protection as the primary drivers for cloud migration.

Data residing in Azure’s DBaaS sits beneath multiple layers of impenetrable protection. The Azure platform combines strong network security, access management, advanced threat detection and protection, encryption, and integrated compliance policies to ensure the safety of customer data. If your business handles any form of highly sensitive information, moving it to Azure is an easy way to keep it safe.

Easy scalability

With most locally hosted databases, you can’t expand database instances or the underlying system’s performance. Making such adjustments is often prohibitively expensive or impractical. Rigidity in database performance means you can’t maximize its capabilities to accommodate seasonal or unexpected traffic spikes.

Dynamic database scaling is something that Microsoft understands and takes very seriously. The flexibility in Azure SQL Server allows two types of performance scaling:

  • Vertical scaling: You can increase or decrease computing power either by changing the Azure DB performance tier or using elastic database features that automatically adjust computing throughput, depending on the workload.
  • Horizontal scaling: This allows you to add more database instances and partition your data into shards to spread the load over multiple databases.

Scaling support lets you maximize database performance during peak seasons with just a few clicks or even autonomously. Learn more about Azure SQL Database scaling here.

Easier administration

Moving an SQL database to Azure simplifies its management drastically. Azure SQL Database is a fully managed Platform as a Service (PaaS) that automatically handles essential database management functions, such as patching, updating, monitoring user activities, performance checks, and data backups.

Moreover, moving data to Azure Database is seamless and quick with the SQL Data Sync feature that lets you mesh data across multiple on-prem and cloud databases. And that’s not all. You can also automate everyday database management tasks and connections within the Azure platform using PowerShell and Power Automate.

Reliable disaster recovery

Transferring your SQL database to Azure Platform does not mean you have to discard your local data repository. It’s understandable if you’re not ready to make the move to solely cloud-based database management. However, replicating your SQL database on Azure can be part of your disaster recovery plan.

With Azure Site Recovery (ASR) and Azure Backup, you can seamlessly use the platform as a data safety net. ASR allows you to neatly transfer your database traffic to Azure Database whenever the on-prem server goes offline or becomes overloaded. For static and incremental backups, Azure Backup will keep six encrypted copies of your data across several data centers. The ultimate goal is to ensure data availability and integrity at all times.

Migrating Your SQL Database to Azure Cloud

The decision to move your SQL database to Azure Cloud is just the first step in your cloud journey. The migration process itself requires careful planning and execution to ensure minimal downtime and a smooth transition. This section will guide you through the key stages of the migration process, from preparation to post-migration best practices.

Preparing for Migration

Before you begin the migration process, it’s crucial to prepare your SQL database. This involves assessing your current database, identifying any potential issues that might affect the migration, and planning the migration strategy.

Start by evaluating your database’s size, complexity, and performance requirements. This will help you choose the right Azure services for your needs. Next, identify any potential compatibility issues between your SQL database and Azure Cloud. Microsoft provides a range of tools, such as the Data Migration Assistant, to help with this.

Once you’ve assessed your database, you can plan your migration strategy. This should include a detailed timeline, a rollback plan in case of issues, and a plan for testing the migrated database before going live.

The Migration Process

The actual migration process involves moving your data from your SQL database to Azure Cloud. This can be done using a variety of methods, depending on your needs and the size of your database.

One common method is to use Azure’s Database Migration Service (DMS), which provides a streamlined process for migrating your data. DMS supports a range of source and target databases, making it a versatile solution for most migrations.

During the migration, it’s crucial to monitor the process closely to identify any issues promptly. Azure provides a range of monitoring tools to help with this.

Post-Migration Best Practices

Once your SQL database has been migrated to Azure Cloud, there are several best practices you should follow to ensure your database runs smoothly.

First, thoroughly test your migrated database to ensure it’s functioning correctly. This should include performance testing to ensure your database meets your business’s needs.

Next, monitor your database regularly to identify any potential issues. Azure provides a range of monitoring tools, such as Azure Monitor and Azure SQL Analytics, to help with this.

Finally, consider implementing Azure’s built-in security features, such as Azure Security Center and Advanced Threat Protection, to protect your database.

Key Takeaways:

  • Preparing for migration involves assessing your current database, identifying potential issues, and planning your migration strategy.
  • The migration process involves moving your data from your SQL database to Azure Cloud, with monitoring to identify any issues.
  • Post-migration best practices include thorough testing, regular monitoring, and implementing Azure’s security features.

Frequently Asked Questions

As you embark on your journey with Azure Cloud, it’s natural to have questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about moving your SQL Database to Azure Cloud.

What are the specific data privacy laws in Canada related to using Azure Cloud?

In Canada, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) governs data privacy. It requires businesses to obtain an individual’s consent when they collect, use, or disclose the individual’s personal information. The individual has a right to access personal information held by a business and challenge its accuracy if necessary. Azure Cloud complies with PIPEDA and has several mechanisms in place to ensure data privacy, including data encryption and secure networks.

How can I ensure minimal downtime during the migration process?

Planning is crucial to minimize downtime during the migration process. This includes assessing your database, planning your migration strategy, and testing the migrated database before going live. Using Azure’s Database Migration Service (DMS) can also help streamline the process and reduce downtime.

What resources are available for troubleshooting Azure Cloud issues?

Microsoft provides a range of resources for troubleshooting Azure Cloud issues, including documentation, tutorials, and forums. You can also contact Azure support for assistance.

How can I optimize my SQL Database after migrating to Azure Cloud?

Azure provides several tools to optimize your SQL Database, including Azure SQL Database Advisor for performance recommendations and Azure Monitor for insights into your database’s performance and behaviour.

Are there industry-specific applications of Azure Cloud?

Yes, Azure Cloud can be tailored to meet the needs of various industries. For instance, in healthcare, Azure can help with patient data analysis and predictive analytics. In finance, Azure can assist with risk modelling and fraud detection.

Making the switch to Azure SQL Database

Clearly, there are many compelling reasons to move your SQL Server database to the cloud. But it’s up to you to decide which of these corresponds with your IT goals in terms of costs, performance, security, and convenience.

Although Azure makes it easy to migrate SQL Server databases to the cloud, you should make some key considerations first. For instance, you have to determine the subscription packages ideal for your organization and its data estate. If you need help doing all this, Softlanding is here for you. We assist businesses in adopting and integrating Microsoft enterprise solutions, including the whole range of Azure services. Reach out to us for expert guidance on cloud migration.

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Softlanding is a long-established IT services provider of transformation, professional services and managed IT services that helps organizations boost innovation and drive business value. We are a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold Competencies and we use our experience and expertise to be a trusted advisor to our clients. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, we have staff and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to serve clients across Canada.

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