SQL in the cloud: Easier than ever to move an on-premises storage platform to the new world

SQL in the cloud: Easier than ever to move an on-premises storage platform to the new world

On-premises platforms dominated the storage market before the introduction of cloud services. However,  due to the growing size of data repositories, these solutions have fallen out of favor with businesses thanks to rising costs and the lack of flexibility. New technologies like cloud storage, cloud analysis services, and cloud reporting have proven to be more efficient, faster and more secure than previous solutions.

For instance, take a look below at the cost vs. administration done for the SQL Server:

SQL Server diagram comparing cost vs administration from Microsoft documentation

Image source: Microsoft Docs

It’s easier than ever to move an “old-school” storage platform to the new world of the cloud.

For example, Neal Analytics worked with one customer that wanted to migrate their SQL Server to Azure for improved performance and costs, while also ensuring compliance over sensitive health data. The customer, a supplier of health information technology solutions and tech-enabled services to support clinical, financial, and operational needs, has more than 6 offices worldwide and over 28,000 employees. Changes to business intelligence and reporting capabilities would be far-reaching, so it needed to be done right.

This customer used Neal Analytics comprehensive knowledge within the field of Azure to be sure to make cost-effective IT investments while migrating the legacy system to cloud. By consulting with Neal Analytics, the customer was also able to create a roadmap that set the right demands and a strategy to ensure that the company could meet them.

The challenges

Ensuring compliance and capabilities

The customer wanted to upgrade their SQL Server to Azure while ensuring the sensitive data would not break any government laws or compliance regulations in the process. It was also important for them to ensure they could get the functionality the company’s BI team required for the business intelligence.

Optimizing performance

The customer wished to look at the company’s hardware and its SQL Server installation, which is based on a hybrid solution, to see how it could be optimized to perform better together. This was especially important to know as the cost of Microsoft’s new license model is dependent on the number of cores.

Deliverability and security

Having its SQL Server installation hosted by a hosting partner, our customer was eager to bring their hosting partner into the project from the start. By doing so, the hosting partner could clarify the possible solutions and confirm which were within the supplier’s delivery range.

Integrating the cloud reporting tool

The final challenge involved moving the customer’s reporting from the legacy services used for analysis to  modern cloud analysis services. The team also needed to integrate a reporting tool in the cloud to provide faster and better business insights for the customer’s BI team.

The solution

With Neal Analytics as a partner, you have our team’s expertise at your fingertips to help you make informed decisions and direct the process of moving your SQL Server environment to Azure and other cloud environments. Neal Analytics has specialized in all the complex elements that form a modern SQL Server data platform. Neal Analytics streamlines this transformation by using a five-step process.

The 5 step process

1. Inventory: Neal Analytics creates a detailed map of your entire SQL Server environment and comes up with the architecture while noting things like security, governance and control.

2. SQL usage patterns: Neal Analytics collects resource consumption data over an extended period of time to gain fact-based savings to make sure that the architecture developed is cost efficient.

3. Report and workshop: Based on collected and qualified data, Neal Analytics makes a report, which is the basis of a joint workshop to

  • Create a consolidation strategy and a road map
  • Map target environment
  • Map business requirements
  • Clarify potential cost reductions

4. Draft project plan and business case: Based on the workshop, Neal Analytics drafts a business case and a project plan for the customer to review and comment.

5. Final delivery: Neal Analytics writes a final business case with the capacity report, target environment and cost, and cost reduction calculations, as well as a final project plan.

User adoption and engagement

Based on the report, Neal Analytics held a workshop with the customer, as well as consultants from the hosting partner, to go through all the data and see how to best consolidate and modernize the SQL Server environment.

The Neal Analytics report and joint workshop resulted in a plan for hardware investments, new SQL Servers, and consolidating the customer’s environment. The workshop also provided valuable knowledge to the hosting partner, who then had the information needed to ensure our recommendations were possible to realize within our current contract.

Based on the workshop, Neal Analytics was able to draft a project plan for the customer, ensuring it was tailor-made to their business needs. Then, the plan was set in motion by working with an in-house project manager or using Neal Analytics to managing the project.


The customer observed that the solution provided helped them to streamline their internal process while also seizing new benefits of the innovative technologies. Not only does the solution help the customer’s development team to work in a better stack, it also reduces costs for the administration department.

Our solution helped the customer increase operational efficiency with centralized reporting and rapid report performance. It also reduced costs by providing scalable features. In addition, this solution enabled easy citizen development thanks to a low-code analytic architecture.

In conclusion, the modern solution Neal Analytics provided to the customer led to nearly 90% faster access to their data and existing solutions when compared to the legacy system. What may have taken over an hour to access using the old system can now be achieved in just a few minutes. By leveraging new technologies and our five-step process, this customer was able to build the infrastructure needed to enable a data platform for BI in the cloud.

Neal can now help organizations plan and budget their SQL Server migration to Azure via Microsoft’s Azure Migration Engagement (AME) program. Click here to learn more.

Contact us to learn how we can help your business take advantage of the cloud.

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