A Migration Roadmap for SQL Server to Azure SQL Database

Azure SQL Database

Migrating your SQL Server instance to the Azure SQL Database opens up new opportunities for scalability, reliability, and cost-efficiency. Whether you’re running SQL Server on-premises or on cloud platforms like Amazon EC2 or Google Compute Engine, this guide will walk you through the migration process step-by-step.  


Before diving into migration, ensure you have completed the following prerequisites:  

  • Choose your migration method: Select the migration method best suited to your needs and the corresponding tools.  
  • Install the Azure SQL migration extension: Install the Azure SQL migration extension for Azure Data Studio to facilitate the migration process.  
  • Create a target Azure SQL Database: Set up your target Azure SQL Database where your SQL Server instance will be migrated.  
  • Configure connectivity and permissions: Ensure proper connectivity and permissions are configured to access both the source and target databases.  
  • Review Azure SQL Database features: Familiarize yourself with the features available in the Azure SQL Database to leverage its capabilities effectively.  

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The pre-migration stage involves assessing your current environment and identifying any potential blockers. Here’s how to proceed:  

  • Discover: Use tools like Azure Migrate or Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit to scan your network and identify all SQL Server instances and features used.  
  • Assess: Evaluate the feasibility of migrating your databases to the Azure SQL Database. Utilize the Azure SQL Migration extension for Azure Data Studio to assess migration readiness and receive Azure recommendations.  
  • Scaled assessments and analysis: For large-scale migrations, consider performing scaled assessments using automation tools provided by Azure.  
  • Deploy to an optimally sized managed instance: Based on the assessment results, create a target Azure SQL database appropriately sized for your workload.  


Once pre-migration tasks are completed, it’s time to migrate your data. Follow these steps:  

  • Migrate using the Azure SQL migration extension for Azure Data Studio: Utilize the migration wizard to select databases for assessment, view readiness, and migrate your data offline.  
  • Monitor migration progress: Keep an eye on the migration progress in Azure Data Studio or Azure Portal to ensure a smooth transition.  
  • Data sync and cutover: During the data synchronization phase, it’s essential to capture and implement all alterations from the source to the target. Coordinate with business and application teams to plan the cutover process effectively, aiming to minimize any disruptions.  
  • Migrate using transactional replication: For migrations requiring continuous replication of data changes, consider using SQL Server transactional replication. This method ensures minimal downtime during migration.  


After migration, perform the following tasks to ensure smooth operation:  

  • Update statistics: Run a full scan statistics update after migration completion.  
  • Remediate applications: Update applications to consume data from the target environment.  
  • Perform tests: Validate data integrity and performance through comprehensive testing.  
  • Use advanced features: Leverage the advanced features offered by the Azure SQL Database for enhanced functionality.  
  • Resolve compatibility issues: Address any compatibility issues that may arise post-migration.  

By following this guide, you can seamlessly migrate your SQL Server instance to the Azure SQL Database, unlocking the benefits of cloud-native architecture.  

Author: Kashif Baksh is a Senior Principal Consultant at Fusion Practices

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