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Microsoft SQL Server Blog

Many organizations have either moved or extended their SQL Server operations from an on-premises data center into Azure. There are many reasons why you might be considering this move for your organization as well. Hosting SQL Server on Azure lets you flexibly scale as needed well beyond what’s possible in the physical data center. Often, the big question is simply how best to get your data into the cloud.

There are several possible methodologies to choose from, and Microsoft provides tools to help you decide what’s right for your organization. For instance, you might use the Azure Database Migration Service to automate the process and ensure that you are compliant with Microsoft’s best practices from the start. Or you might simply leverage the Data Migration Assistant to assess your migration and identify any blocking issues or incompatibilities before executing one of the many strategies for migration, including:

  • Back up the on-premises database and restore on Azure Virtual Machines (VM)
  • Detaching database and log files, copying them to Azure Blob Storage, and attaching to Azure VM
  • Physically shipping a hard drive with Windows Import/Export Service
  • Using distributed Availability Groups for migration
  • Transaction log shipping

With Pure Cloud Block Store™ for Azure from our partner Pure Storage, there is another easy option which warrants your consideration. With built-in replication capability from an on-premises FlashArray, it’s an easy way to replicate your SQL databases directly into Azure and then simply attach them to a SQL Server instance running on Azure VM.

Running SQL Server on an Azure Virtual Machine is one of the quickest and easiest ways to lift and shift your SQL workloads into the cloud. And with Cloud Block Store handling the data movement, it can be even easier. One of the great things about SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines is that it is the same SQL Server database engine you are used to running on-premises. For the most part, configuration, settings, maintenance, and performance tuning techniques are all going to be the same. Likewise, Cloud Block Store is running the same Purity operating environment as an on-premises FlashArray. Together, the two combine to give you a familiar management experience right from the start.

As a block storage service created from Azure VMs and Azure Managed Disks, Cloud Block Store extends these cloud-native building blocks to provide a vast array of rich data services which make it not only a great way to migrate data but also a compelling option for storing and managing SQL Server data long term. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Data replication that enables seamless migration and unlocks additional capabilities

Whether it’s replicating data from an on-premises array or among multiple Cloud Block Store instances, you can use the data replication functionality that comes natively with Cloud Block Store for easy data migration. That means you can asynchronously transfer database-consistent point-in-time snapshots directly into Azure, all while the on-premises production database stays up and running, then use the Azure copy for several additional purposes.

First and foremost, the data replication capability of Cloud Block Store can be used as the primary means to migrate data from an on-premises array into Azure. It’s fast, efficient, and completely offloads the task of data transfer from the SQL Server hosts, letting the storage array do all the heavy lifting. As a bonus, all the previous snapshots that were taken on the on-premises side become potential recovery or cloning points within Azure.

It’s also incredibly easy to set up with just a few simple steps:

  1. Obtain a connection key from both the on-premises array and Cloud Block Store.
  2. Use the keys to create an asynchronous replication connection between the two.
  3. Create a protection group on the source array, add the desired source volumes, and specify a replication schedule to Cloud Block Store in Azure.
  4. Once baseline replication is complete, connect the replicated volumes to Azure VM through iSCSI.

Once your database is in Azure, Cloud Block Store provides further options, including:

  1. Disaster recovery (DR). Keep a frequently updated copy in Azure as part of a disaster recovery plan without the need for a physical secondary data center. Customers can take advantage of the licensing benefit for free SQL Server Disaster Recovery licenses in Azure VMs associated with on-premises primaries covered with Software Assurance.
  2. Efficient copies for DR and dev/test. Create a cloned copy of that database that takes zero additional storage space and is available in an instant.
    • Use that clone to regularly exercise your DR strategy so that there are no surprises when you need it in an emergency.
    • You can create multiple copies that can be used for any number of purposes, not the least of which is establishing an agile dev/test environment in Azure with frequently updated copies of production data
  3. High availability. Take database-consistent snapshot copies of your database running natively on Cloud Block Store and replicate them to other Cloud Block Store instances across availability zones. You can even replicate copies back on-premises if you’d like for greater business resilience.
  4. Enterprise Data Services. Including industry-leading data reduction, which enables more cloud usage and lower TCO, ransomware protection through SafeMode, and business continuity with ActiveCluster™ across multiple availability zones.

Enable flexible storage

With Pure Cloud Block Store on Azure, you get fast, flexible storage from a foundation built on Azure disk, and building upon that, a host of advanced data features and functionality that enterprise customers have come to depend on, all provided directly in Azure. It provides a fast and efficient means to transport your data into the cloud and makes a number of options available to you once it’s there—from dev/test, to disaster recovery, to full-on production in the cloud with the highest levels of performance and data protection. Try Cloud Block Store out today and discover what Pure Cloud Block Store on Azure can do for you and your business.

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