Webinar Follow-Up: Cloud Database Migration Q&A

Douglas McDowell

Published On: July 17, 2019

Categories: Cloud, Migration, DTU Calculator 0

Webinar Recap

In March, I was privileged to participate in a webinar with MSSQL Tips entitled Eating the Elephant: Cloud Database Migration.

If you haven’t seen the presentation yet, click here to view it on-demand for free. In the webinar, SentryOne Senior Solutions Engineer Devon Leann Wilson and I addressed:

  • Options, concerns, and benefits surrounding the many paths to migrating your on-premises and virtualized SQL Server workloads into the cloud
  • Business drivers and prescriptive guidance to get started immediately
  • Azure and AWS capabilities
  • Toolsets and expert skills available to remove risk and accelerate your move to the cloud

At the close of the MSSQL Tips Cloud Database Migration webinar we received some great questions from attendees. We’ve captured them below.

Upgrading SQL Server

Q: If someone is running SQL 2016 on Azure and they wish to upgrade, does it make sense to upgrade to SQL 2019 when its released, or go with SQL 2017?

A: Just to clarify, the person asking that question is most likely running it on IaaS, so as a VM on Azure, and then considering whether to do an upgrade to that VM. To clarify further, if you're on platform as a service (PaaS), or you're using Azure SQL DB or Azure SQL DB Managed Instance, these are not issues that you have to consider as much because Microsoft is updating that constantly. That's one of the benefits of being on PaaS. You can run the PaaS at compatibility level if you need to run at a certain level with a certain version of SQL Server.

What I always say about upgrades is that as long as you're within support and you're keeping up on your patches and all the things that you should be doing to secure your platform, then you only really need to do an upgrade if there's a certain feature or benefit that is pulling you in that direction.

Also note that Microsoft is constantly making the query engine faster. Each version of SQL Server is significantly faster. That's a benefit you'll get a little bit lower total cost of ownership because you'll get more efficiency. If that's a big deal and if you're having some scalability issues, you could benefit. But usually, if you're using something like SQL Sentry, you can squeeze a lot more out by optimizing the version you're on.

The DTU Calculator

Q: For the Database Transaction Unit (DTU) calculator, is the calculation based at the server level? If so, is there any way to look at just individual databases?

A: The DTU calculator a sizing toolkit so that if you're moving to Azure SQL Database you've picked the right size of footprint there. It's a cool toolkit. It has this PowerShell job that will capture workload. Its is built for Azure SQL Database not for Managed Instance. It is focused on a databases workload. I think that that would be a good fit for what the question is suggesting.

For more information on how to use the DTU calculator, reference this article at MSSQL Tips and read this SQLPerformance.com blog to see how to use SQL Sentry data with the DTU calculator to more accurately size workloads.

Q: Does the DTU calculator give people an idea of what it's going to cost to move to the cloud? Do people generally save money doing so, or is it a wash?

A: For this question, you’ll likely get a “it depends” type of answer from most people. The bottom line is that it's apples and oranges in the whole CapEx versus OpEx discussion. You have a lot of sunk cost in a server infrastructure and virtualization environment that you're then turning into an operational cost when you go to the cloud. The overall answer is that your total cost of ownership will go down.

If you were wondering if you should go to the cloud or refresh all of your servers and amortize them over a certain period of time, you should start to look at the required skillset to support those servers at the OS, network, and database level versus the cloud.

It's supposed to be cheaper in the cloud, and it usually is. But you should always optimize those workloads as part of your journey before you put it in the cloud because you can end up overpaying.

Cloud Migration Resources

If you’re considering a cloud migration, SentryOne has several educational resources and product sets to simplify the process so you can move to the cloud with confidence.

Here’s a quick rundown of resources to check out:

As an added resource you may enjoy a SentryOne webinar hosted by Kevin Kline on 5 Critical Cloud Migration Considerations.



Douglas McDowell is the SolarWinds Database GM. His primary focus is to advise the leadership team and Board of Directors in planning, research, business strategy, and analytics to ensure alignment with our largest partners, including Microsoft.