Migrating SQL Server to the Cloud: Checklist

Migrating SQL Server to the cloud needs planning so we have put together a checklist for you to consider. The beauty of SQL Server is that it plays well in all cloud environments. If you prepare the environment for security, accessibility, and performance prior to going to the cloud you will save money. Fixing these items in the cloud are costly because it is hard to ramp the systems back down once you have used CPUS, space, pipes etc. These are our recommendations that we hope will help you Migrate SQL Server to the cloud, please review and process as you feel is proper for your business.

The most important key statement to consider is to Stabilize the current environment before moving to the cloud. The pain you have now show up in the cloud.

NOTE:
Cloud environments in any form is going to require the SQL Application to run at peak performance anything less will cause costs to rise due to increases in computing requirements. The existing servers needs a thorough performance analysis performed on them to find which apps/process are causing the most issues.

Check List: in no particular order

1. Check the hardware needs of the current environment. Do you have enough memory and disk space for potential growth and for the migration tasks? Are the Current CPU’s being used to capacity?

2. What size pipe do you have to do the transfer of the data to the cloud. Not having enough throughput can mean that the process will not only be slow but disruptions in the “network,” to the cloud can cause this process to be frustrating with a lot of complete do overs.

3. Is your current environment, secure and performing well?
a. Check for slow running queries, application code issues, and locking and blocking issues.
These will not automatically be corrected in the new environment they may get worse

4. What version of SQL Server are you running? Are you planning to move from an out of compliance version to the newest version of SQL Server? Generally, you still need to move up through the numbers and test the application, reports etc. to ensure everything will still run as your user community expects.

5. Keep the old environment up do not dismantle until you are confident there are no differences in use, data, etc.
a. Consider Dismantling the old environment after you have migrated your SQL Server to the cloud and have tested and deemed the project completed. Those resources can be repurposed
including adding memory and disk space to the current production servers. This can also provide
your team some room to breathe during the possibility of a long-term migration effort. Including
acting as a DR environment should something go wrong
6. Review your backup process prior to starting your SQL Server to the cloud migration. Ask the question, “How much data can you afford to lose?”
a. Set it up and test it. You still want to keep backups that are outside of the environment, air
gapped outside of the cloud. You will still want this defense.


7. Review your encryption process both data on the move and data at rest. Make certain that TDE is set up in the new cloud environment and in the old so that during the move you are protecting the data. Also use encryption for data on the move while migrating to the new cloud environment.


8. Discuss how you want to set up High Availability for mission critical databases, do you want to use the HA available in the same cloud, use a back up vendor for the HA or use other sources to bring up a secondary environment. The cloud has a lot of processes for ensuring hardware will not completely fail, but you still need a DR process, and you need to consider this in your migration plan. What if something happens during the migration or days later? What is your DR plan?

9. Review all your reporting systems look for all the Tableau /reports/ flows and PowerBI reports off the OLTP servers and start utilizing the new reporting server.

10. VM moves will be easier since one doesn’t have to decouple apps since they use linked servers to pull data from other servers

11. Do full review and look at the schema for performance issues before migrating to the cloud.

12. Do a code review, using tools like DPA to locate in-efficient queries to help find code that needs to be re-written to stabilize performance which should help keep any future Azure costs down.

13. It might be a good idea to get SQL Governor installed as that tool might be able to help size the environment that Azure may need to support their environment. And the same tools and DPA may be able to help bring those costs down before the migration takes place.

14. Plan any changes to applications, application servers and security that may be relevant to their cloud migration.

15. Changes to an Azure backend will require repointing applications and application servers. This may also require changes in security settings and reconfiguration as to how security works.

16. While preparing for a SQL Server to the cloud migration there are many tools that can help from understanding the costs in the cloud and help with the cloud provider selection; Some tools to keep in mind are: REDGATE TOOLS: REDGATE DEPLOY or the REDGATE SQL COMPARE or there are automate and other migration tools in Azure that will help you automate the migration process. AZURE MIGRATION DATABASE SERVICES, and other tools to ensure the migration is complete.

In Summary,
Get your current environment nice and healthy prior to migrating SQL Server to the cloud. Ms SQL Server is versatile you can move it to ANY cloud environment. Moving to the cloud does not absolve you of your security and data compliance responsibilities. You are not passing these issues on to the vendor. You can have solid and steady performance in a cloud, but only if your code and architecture is solid. Have fun on the way and plan for any contingency and document everything along the way.
Good luck and have fun!

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