Getting Ready to Migrate your SQL Servers to the Cloud: A To Do List

Perhaps you’re interested in reducing the amount of time spent on managing your current SQL Servers, or maybe you’d like to use a more modern approach. Maybe you’re considering lowering managing costs, improving performance, scaling your business, or there is even a chance that you are proactively seeking a high availability/disaster recovery solution. 

Whatever your reason may be, you’ll need to carefully decide and thoroughly understand your migration strategy. Prior to migrating your SQL Servers, you'll want to carefully review the following steps to ensure a smooth transition, one that is safe and offers as little downtime as possible. Outlined below are 10 steps that will help you to safely migrate your SQL Servers to the cloud, all while minimizing risks and increasing efficiency. 

Before starting the migration process:

  1. Analyze and strategically plan your migration.

This may go without saying, but the planning process is a vital step when migrating your SQL Servers to the cloud. As mentioned, you’ll need to be sure to move your servers as safely as possible. The first step in planning includes assessing the complexity of your current workload. Complex migrations can be broken down into phases to make them less complex, if necessary. 

  1. Check the size of your current database.

Knowing the size of your databases will allow you to choose the best migration strategy for your needs, and will also allow you to consider your business’s needs and options in relation to scalability.

  1. Check for dependencies.

You’ll need to know if your database is dependent on other databases. This will help to minimize errors and unplanned downtime. If parts of your current database rely on other databases, you can make the decision to migrate both of them simultaneously, or wait until after your main database is migrated, and then create your dependencies with as little disruption to your current system as possible.

  1. Plan for Downtime.

Decide how much downtime your business can afford. Your migration approach will depend on this factor. Migrations can occur online or offline, with the former being recommended when zero to minimal downtime is required. While some migration methods require downtime, there are others that can either be delayed or don’t require downtime at all. 

       5. Compliance.

Be sure that the migration strategy you choose will accommodate your compliance needs. Consider your current architecture and auditing requirements. Then, plan accordingly. 

  1. High Availability and Disaster Recovery (HA/DR).

High availability guarantees a certain percentage of uptime. Disaster recovery, in the traditional form, requires continuous maintenance and support, manually. Having a HA/DR plan involves assessing how your system is designed, its potential threats, vulnerabilities, most valuable assets, and the order of their recovery should a disaster occur. In the cloud, automations can be prearranged for each step of the recovery process. High availability and disaster recovery are recommended best practices for certain types of workloads (i.e. production workloads).

  1. Check your SQL Server support.

Know the version and edition of your SQL Server software. This will be important if you find yourself in need of support during your migration process. Taking note of this information in advance will save time during the migration process should you need any troubleshooting assistance.

  1. Check your Network Connectivity.

The migration process will require a strong, secure connection. Ideally, your network should  provide enough bandwidth to quickly transfer data from its current location to the cloud. 

  1. Review your Licensing.

Review your licensing options. Will you be providing your own licenses, or are licenses included, and managed by your cloud service provider? 

  1. Know your Limitations.

Knowing the limitations of whatever strategy you choose can save time, money, and frustration in the long run. You wouldn’t want to choose a cloud service that doesn’t suit the needs of your company. Ask yourself, does the features and capabilities of the cloud service I am choosing work well for my current workload? Is my migration plan sustainable, and will I be able to scale my business efficiently with the migration strategy I have chosen? 


References

Cloud Migration. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/cloud-migration-index

Patel, S. (2020, October). Migrating Microsoft SQL Server databases to the AWS Cloud. AWS Professional Services. https://docs.aws.amazon.com/prescriptive-guidance/latest/migration-sql-server/welcome.html

Raja, Y. (2020, November). Migration strategy for relational databases. AWS Professional Services. https://docs.aws.amazon.com/prescriptive-guidance/latest/strategy-database-migration/welcome.html

Trianz. (2020, January) What to Consider Before Migrating your SQL Server to the cloud. https://www.trianz.com/insights/what-to-consider-before-migrating-your-sql-server-to-the-azure-cloud