Three Risk-Free Ways to Explore SQL Server on Azure

Michele Crockett

Published On: December 3, 2019

Categories: SQL Server, Azure 0

Looking forward to the holiday season so you can finally tackle some strategic projects or explore new technology? Unless you’re a DBA grappling with seasonal ecommerce database crunches, December can be an opportune time to catch up on coursework, dig into some whitepapers, or investigate new products or approaches that could make your life easier in the coming year.

One project to put on your list: Checking out SQL Server on Azure. Even if your organization hasn’t yet committed any database workloads to cloud services, you can expand your knowledge and become more proficient with all things Azure so you’re ready when the cloud conversation starts—as it surely will.

According to a report released by Gartner in July, “The Future of the DBMS Market Is Cloud,” 2018 worldwide database revenue grew 18.4% to $46 billion in 2018—and cloud DBMS revenue accounts for 68% of that growth. Gartner predicts that by 2022, “75% of all databases will be deployed or migrated to a cloud platform, with only 5% ever considered for repatriation to on-premises.” Two key drivers of this shift are the increased dependence of businesses on analytics, and the increasing prevalence of SaaS deployment models.

Time to Dive into SQL Server on Azure

This is the perfect time to become fluent in SQL Server on Azure, not only because of upcoming holiday slow time but also because of Azure resources and offers now available from Microsoft—and from SentryOne. Here are three risk-free ways to explore SQL Server on Azure.

  1. Dive into the details of a new GigaOm report comparing price-performance between SQL Server running on Azure with the same setup on AWS. The new report compared SQL Server Enterprise edition on Azure and on AWS across three different benchmarks, concluding that SQL Server on Azure is up to 3.4x faster and costs 87% less than the same offering on AWS.

Because price and performance are two of the most compelling drivers for moving databases to the cloud (for more info about this, see Kevin Kline’s blog “Azure SQL Data Warehouse Delivers a Win-Win on Price-Performance”), you’ll want to dig into the details of the report to see whether your organization could expect to see similar results. The GigaOm report provides extensive test run details, so you can compare the test environment to your company’s scenario.

  1. Sign up for a free Azure account—and get 12 months of free services and $200 credit to explore any Azure service for 30 days. This could turn out to be your favorite holiday toy—you just need to unwrap it. Here a few ideas with what you can do with your free account:
    • Use Azure Cognitive Services to create apps that read, understand, and interpret human communication. Microsoft offers 12 AI services—everything from a Form Recognizer that automates extracting text, key/value pairs, and tables from documents to the new Face, which can detect and identify people.
    • Test and deploy enterprise apps using Azure Virtual Machines, Managed Disks, and SQL databases.
    • Deliver better data insights (and a better experience) to your stakeholders using Machine Learning, Azure Databricks, and HDInsight.
  1. Read “Cloud Migration Guide: SQL Server to Azure.” This free whitepaper is a step-by-step guide to migrating SQL Server workloads to Azure. (It also includes Azure SQL Database and Managed Instance.) The paper delves into planning the migration—including discovery, data validation, and operational support—as well as post-migration operations. You’ll get a crash course in sizing cloud systems, conducting a migration dry run, and getting into a “cloud mindset” so you can accurately provision cloud resources. The guide introduces CloudLifter, which includes four SentryOne products that can help in preparing and executing a successful cloud migration.

Like that acclaimed discourse about World War II that you’ve been meaning to get to, our Cloud Migration Guide will make you smarter. But in this case, you can immediately use the knowledge to examine how you can help your company run SQL Server faster—and for lower cost—on Azure.

Removing the Mystery—and the Risk

Moving databases to the cloud can be daunting. But the more you know about best practices—and what processes will work best in your environment—the more value you can bring to a migration project. Learning about the factors that impact price and performance from the GigaOm report, experimenting with a free Azure account, and digging into our Cloud Migration Guide will remove some of the mystery from cloud migrations. And you’ll start 2020 with new perspectives on how a cloud database deployment could transform your company’s ability to accelerate data delivery to your customers and stakeholders.

Michele Crockett, director of product marketing, is responsible for developing and implementing go-to-market programs for SentryOne products. A longtime technology marketing professional for companies including Microsoft, HPE, and others, Michele was the former publisher of SQL Server Magazine and editor of Windows IT Pro Magazine.