Where SQL Server & SQL Azure Converge

Throughout 2011, with each new Microsoft CTP release of SQL Server Denali, updates to SQL Azure and service packs for SQL Server 2008 R2, you are going to see more & more convergence between the traditional on-premises database and the cloud database world, SQL Azure. Add to this mix, the advancements coming from Redmond this year with AppFabric and Windows Azure and you are starting to see these worlds blend together into the goal of optimized and effective IT data centers and workgroups where you seamlessly move data and applications between bare metal to private cloud to public cloud.

Ok, let’s slow down for a second and be realistic about this. We’re not there yet. In fact, each of those Microsoft iniatives mentioned above has separate product teams, release cycles and release mechanisms. But I did want to point out a few areas where you can get started to be ahead of the curve during this very exciting time in Cloud computing. We are nearing an inflexion point where traditional on-premises practices are moving over to Cloud. In our SQL Server land, we have 3 primary ways to begin this transition:

  1. SQL Azure Data Migration Wizard
  2. Data Sync Framework
  3. Data-Tier Applications

SQL Azure Data Migration Wizard

This is a free download tool from Codeplex (http://sqlazuremw.codeplex.com) and it is a very simple, easy-to-use and intuitive utility. It is a tool for engineers, so don’t look for fancy GUIs and Silverlight. But it does an awesome job of migrating your on-premises SQL Server database objects and data to SQL Azure. It handles a lot of the migration steps that you would need to do manually such as identifying unsupported SQL Azure objects and code as well as things like adding clustered indexes on every table (a current SQL Azure requirement). This is a great stop-gap tool to use until Data Sync is ready for prime time …

SQL Azure Data Sync

This is the Microsoft-sanctioned go-forward way to replicate data between on-prem SQL Server and SQL Azure, as well as scheduling data synchronization and replication across Azure data centers and SQL Azure databases. The problem is that the current publicly available version (https://datasync.sqlazurelabs.com) does not sync to or from SQL Server on-premises yet and the new version is still in CTP (beta) which you can sign-up for here.

SQL Server Data-Tier Application

This is functionality that is built into SQL Server 2008 R2 that allows developers and administrators to move units of code built in SQL Server databases, around instances and through a development lifecycle (i.e. dev, test, stage, prod). This is available today and you can deploy SQL Server database schemas that you’ve developed from Visual Studio 2010 to SQL Server 2008 R2 on-prem or to the cloud in SQL Azure.

Joe D’Antoni (Philly SQL Server UG VP) and I are presenting on all of these techniques at this Saturday’s SQL Saturday Philadelphia in Ft. Washington, PA (http://www.sqlsaturday.com). Our presentation material is available for you to view here.

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