Moving SQL to the Cloud: Benefits and Considerations

Moving SQL to the Cloud: Benefits and Considerations

Many organisations are looking to the cloud as the future of their business computing. After all, the cloud unlocks a new level of efficiency and scalability, helping you cut costs, have a leaner IT infrastructure and scale indefinitely. This includes your SQL databases. Moving your SQL infrastructure to the cloud will benefit your business immensely, but also comes with some important considerations.

If you’re looking to move to a cloud-based SQL environment, ensuring you’re clear about the benefits and the steps you need to take will be the first step when convincing key decision-makers that you should make the move.

That’s why in this article, we’re going to go over the main benefits and considerations that you’ll have to make when deciding to move to cloud-based SQL, as well as some best practices to ensure that you can hit the ground running when it comes to SQL.

Benefits of Moving SQL to the Cloud

Migrating to the cloud can bring a host of benefits to your organisation. This includes SQL, which can benefit immensely from a cloud-based implementation over an archaic on-prem SQL database.

Here are some of the benefits of making the move —

  • Optimised costs: The cloud optimises costs when regarding resources, maintenance, and hardware, due to the lack of a need to facilitate server hardware.
  • Flexibility and scalability: The cloud is easily scalable, compared to an on-prem system. Data stores can grow and shrink as your business needs change, and a cloud SQL server can be scaled up and down accordingly.
  • Enhanced security: Cloud providers like Microsoft Azure have a wide range of built-in security features and protections to ensure your data is protected. A managed cloud environment can help avoid the common pitfalls of configuring an SQL database on your own.
  • Compliance: Most cloud providers will seamlessly comply with all major compliance regulations. This is vital for any organisation, but especially those in highly compliance-regulated environments — and will ensure that your databases are secure to a high standard.
  • Backup and recovery: Cloud providers will allow your organisation to back up your databases incredibly easily, as they’ll have simple one-click backup options for you to opt for. If it’s a concern, some cloud providers even let you store backups in different regions to ensure maximum accessibility in the case of disaster.

These benefits make cloud migration a lucrative investment for many businesses. The cost savings and the added flexibility will make your databases much easier and less costly to manage.

But, there are also lots of different considerations that need to be made before jumping in. Let’s discuss some common pitfalls.

Migration Considerations

Assess Current Infrastructure

The first step is assessing your current database infrastructure, to see what you need to change, what needs to stay the same, and any dependencies that you might need to consider. This initial analysis will be able to inform your decisions throughout the migration process, so ensuring that you’re clear on what you need to do is vital.

You should take into consideration what parts of your infrastructure need to be addressed the most, and then work from there — ensuring that you’re keeping track of dependencies to not leave anyone or any program without what it needs to function.

Cloud Provider Options

The next step is picking a cloud provider. There are many different options available, so researching the agreements and terms of each provider is vital. However, out of all of the available providers, there are none above Microsoft Azure.

Between its reliability, affordability, and flexibility, Microsoft Azure will be able to handle the needs of most organisations — and their great customer service and care will be able to help you ensure that any issues can be solved promptly.

Need even more peace of mind? Consider working with a managed service provider (MSP) to handle your cloud migration and maintenance for you. This means that Azure SQL will always be updated with the newest features, and, it’s even possible that administrative tasks can also be done on your behalf, depending on how you configure Azure SQL.

On top of this, Azure SQL has a multitude of intelligent security features and encryption, which means that your database will be safe and secure to the highest standard.

Data Security and Compliance

Data security is a vital part of any business’s IT needs — and, while the cloud comes with many data security and compliance benefits, making sure that everything is planned out correctly and done securely is vital.  After all, if the transition to the cloud results in a data breach or leak, there is no real point to the security benefits of the cloud — as the gates will be open.

Using a service that is security-conscious — such as Azure SQL — will mean that you have built-in cloud security features, which will help you keep compliant and secure. With this, your database won’t be potentially vulnerable or open to breaches or leaks.

Azure SQL’s managed services will also ensure that you have your databases set up in a manner where you can’t make any security oversights, meaning that you can avoid human error all around — further securing your databases and organisation.

Minimising Downtime

When you do eventually choose to migrate, your organisation may experience downtime due to the systems needing to go offline as the migration occurs. This may mean that parts of your business will become unavailable — meaning that you’ll need to be able to find ways to minimise the time that this happens.

This includes strategically planning downtime to occur during less active hours and ensuring that everyone works around the upcoming downtime, creating a smooth transition.

Best Practices for Migration

Incremental Approach

Making a fast moveover can be jarring and difficult. It can lead to a lot of downtime and getting used to new systems. This is known as a ‘big-bang’ migration and can be incredibly difficult for businesses to deal with. Instead, a gradual approach is best.

There are two types of incremental migrations: vertical and horizontal. Vertical migrations focus on feature-by-feature migration, whereas horizontal migrations are moving and migrating users to a new system over time to ensure everyone is settled.

Testing and Validation

Testing and validating will help ensure that your cloud implementation works as intended. Moving over to a broken or poorly configured system could be catastrophic for your organisation.

By testing and validating, you can ensure that everything works as intended and that all of the systems move over to the cloud effectively — to ensure no downtime or nasty errors when the move is made.

How We Can Help

Moving over to the cloud is beneficial for several reasons — the cloud has many benefits, and utilising a cloud solution for your SQL databases can help take it to the next level. However, knowing the things you need to consider for this is important, as the process isn’t as simple as it seems.

If you’re looking to get started with cloud-based SQL but don’t know where to begin, reach out to us today. Our team of experts will be able to help you get started easily and provide you with a helping hand whenever you need it.

Contact us now and see how we can help.