Top 5 tips & tricks for a successful SQL Server migration

Top 5 tips & tricks for a successful SQL Server migration

With the end of support for SQL Server 2012 in July 2022, many organizations are looking to migrate their SQL Server databases to Azure.

While migrating business-critical databases can seem like a daunting task that requires significant preparation and expertise to execute, several best practices can reduce the amount of work, and frankly stress, involved with a SQL Server migration.

SQL Server Migration Tip 1: Use migration tools to make your job easier

1. Use migration tools to make your job easier

Previously, when an organization migrated SQL Server to the cloud, they would need to dedicate a great deal of time to discovery to account for all of their servers. In addition to this, they would need to ensure they noted any dependencies.

Microsoft now offers tools like Azure MigrateData Migration Assistant (DMA), and Azure Database Migration Service (DMS), which can help eliminate much of the complexity from SQL Server migrations.

These tools can help organizations automatically detect on-premises SQL Servers and migrate large volumes of SQL objects and other data to Azure at a low cost. These services can help accelerate migrations by simplifying server and dependency discovery, data cleanup, and pipeline orchestration.

SQL Server migration tip 2: Audit your PaaS and SaaS designations with an Azure Well-Architected Framework

2. Audit your PaaS & SaaS designs with an Azure Well-Architected Framework

To help ensure that customers successfully migrate and run on Azure, Microsoft provides what they call the Azure Well-Architected Framework. Microsoft designed the Framework to guide customers on building their cloud workloads best to ensure optimal functionality.

The Framework focuses on 5 core infrastructural tenants designed to help with workload:

  • Reliability
  • Security
  • Cost optimization
  • Operational excellence
  • Performance efficiency

SQL Server migration tip 3: Plan, plan, and do some project planning too

3. Plan, plan, & do some project planning too

You may have heard the alliteration, “proper prior planning prevents poor performance.” As with most things in life, a sound migration plan is essential for a successful migration. But what makes for a sound migration plan?

Some may think, “Well, a good migration plan needs to ensure we account for dependencies and that we can move our data into the migration target, right?” While this is partly correct, a high-quality migration plan will also consider what comes next.

For example, if an organization plans to leverage DevOps or a CI/CD methodology, what steps will the organization need to take to enable those methodologies? Will the data be useable after a simple lift and shift? Will the data or database need modernization after being migrated? Should the data be transformed during the migration process itself? These are all questions that the organization should answer before executing a migration.

Neal typically recommends that organizations migrating to the cloud account for the following in their plans:

  • Implementing DevOps
  • Leveraging CI/CD
  • Release management
  • Required changes to control & strategy
  • How to communicate and address challenges, obstacles, and blockers

SQL Server migration tip 4: Documentation-driven development

4. Documentation-driven development

Document-driven development means two things:

  1. Leverage existing documentation to guide development
  2. Document all development work done

One significant benefit of migrating SQL Server now is that many organizations have already done it, resulting in a plethora of documentation and guidance on how to best plan and execute migrations. Cloud providers and partners alike have invested a great deal of time and effort into documenting best practices for cloud migrations, culminating in valuable documents like migration playbooks and example migration roadmaps.

Once migrated, organizations can use other documentation to establish new methodologies, such as Microsoft’s Team Data Science Process (TDSP) methodology.

SQL Server migration tip 5: Work with a team of experts

5. Work with a team of experts

Partnering with a team of migration experts can have many benefits when migrating SQL Server. Not only will they have the experience and expertise to plan and execute migrations rapidly, but knowledge of the tools, services, and solutions offered to enable modernization in the cloud. Additionally, working with Microsoft partners with specializations can unlock special financing and other incentives to help reduce costs and expedite migrations to Azure.

Neal Analytics is a Microsoft Solutions Partner for Infrastructure, Data & AI, and Digital & App Innovation. Our team has also achieved the specialization in Windows and SQL Server Migrations to Azure, which means we have undergone a detailed audit process to validate our expertise with SQL and Windows Server migrations. This specialization means that organizations who leverage Neal can take advantage of the benefits described above, plus gain a partner who can help them continue to modernize and innovate even after migrations.

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 if you want to learn more about Neal, SQL Server migrations or discover whether your organization qualifies for Microsoft’s migration incentives.


This blog was originally published 10/13/2021 and has since been updated.