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Migrating SQL Server Databases to Azure SQL Database

Updated: April 18, 2014

This section describes how to migrate an on-premise relational database to Microsoft Azure SQL Database. It describes how to migrate both the data object definitions in the schemas, and the data in the tables. It also describes how to determine which database objects are not supported by Microsoft Azure SQL Database, and application changes that might be required to use the database in Microsoft Azure SQL Database.

Author: Shaun Tinline-Jones
Reviewer: Shawn Hernan

Migration Overview

Microsoft Azure SQL Database operates as a service hosted in Microsoft data centers, so it has a different operating environment than an instance of the SQL Server Database Engine running on an on-premises server. While there are many similarities between the SQL Server Database Engine and Microsoft Azure SQL Database, there are also differences. These differences mean that the scope of a project to move a database from an instance of the Database Engine to Microsoft Azure SQL Database is more like a migration project than a simple move of a database from one instance to another. Even if the database only uses objects supported by Microsoft Azure SQL Database, there may be changes required to ensure that the applications that use the database continue to run well against a web service.

The engineering changes that must be considered for a migration include:

  1. Remove any dependencies the database has on other SQL Server features, such as replication, that are not present in Microsoft Azure SQL Database.

  2. Remove any dependencies the database has on database object types or Transact-SQL syntax, such as distributed queries, that are not supported by Microsoft Azure SQL Database.

  3. If you plan to use the database only in Microsoft Azure SQL Database, you can optionally decide to incorporate support for features unique to Microsoft Azure SQL Database. If you plan to deploy different copies of the database to either on-premises instances of SQL Server or Microsoft Azure SQL Database, then only use features and objects supported in both environments.

    ImportantImportant
    Adding support for features unique to Microsoft Azure SQL Database can increase the complexity of a migration project. Consider adding this support in a subsequent project, unless the feature is required to host the database in Microsoft Azure SQL Database.

  4. Make required changes to the applications that use the database. These fall into three categories:

    1. Change any application code that is dependent on any of the features that were altered in or removed from the database.

    2. Add any application code required to take full advantage of Microsoft Azure SQL Database features added to the database.

    3. Make the application changes required to operate effectively when the database is hosted in a Microsoft Azure SQL Database environment. For example, moving a database from an on-premises server to a data center can affect network latency, and make it more important for the application to minimize the amount of data transmitted across the network.

  5. Decide on a migration process, build the packages required to use that process, and then run the process.

Making extensive changes to the database and applications often drive most of the costs for a migration project. The business requirements for the database must also be a good match for the capabilities of Microsoft Azure SQL Database. For more information about determining whether a database is a good candidate for migration, see Planning a Migration to Azure.

In addition to migrating a database from an on-premise instance of the SQL Server Database Engine, you can use a SQL Server Migration Assistant to migrate an Oracle, MySQL, or Access database to Microsoft Azure SQL Database.

In This Section

The topics in this section give more detailed guidance about these aspects of migrating a database to Microsoft Azure SQL Database.

 

Description Topic

Planning and running a Microsoft Azure SQL Database migration project, including guidance about determining the scope of changes required to the database and associated applications.

Planning an Azure SQL Database Migration Project

Review the application changes that may be required to support good levels of performance when a database is migrated to Microsoft Azure SQL Database.

Performance Considerations with Azure SQL Database

Provides guidance on high availability and disaster recovery strategies to help protect data from user mistakes, application errors, hardware failure, data center shutdown due to natural disasters, and so on.

High Availability and Disaster Recovery Considerations with Azure SQL Database

Choosing the migration tools and processes best suited for a particular project. Outlines the steps for using the tools and processes.

Choosing Tools to Migrate a Database to Azure SQL Database

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