An Insider’s View of SQL Server Migrations

In my last blog, I talked about the top 5 reasons to migrate from Microsoft SQL Server 2005. And I promised, as a follow up, to give you an insider’s look at how EMC approaches Microsoft SQL Server migrations, starting with the first phase of a two-phased approach.

First, let’s recap the primary objectives that are likely driving your Microsoft SQL Server upgrade or migration:

  • taking advantage of the increased performance, scalability, and new features of more recent releases
  • reducing costs, both hardware and software, by consolidating and optimizing the data infrastructure
  • populating and migrating existing database workloads to a new modern database as a service (DBaaS) model, as part of your IT transformation journey

These goals are all worthwhile, but without a concrete migration plan, many businesses delay time to value. To achieve modern infrastructure and service models, businesses will need to invest significant time and resources to their migration initiative. This is where EMC’s expert teams shine. We save our clients the headache of handling the migration and help you accelerate your ROI by streamlining migration process.

Adding value through risk reduction. No one likes risk. That’s why we employ automated tools to gather and analyze data related to existing database servers and data instances. Then we create an inventory of the apps by reviewing existing records and through interviews with the application owners. These applications are dependent on the infrastructure that we’re about to change. It’s important to rate the applications according to their criticality to the business. The inventory includes app-to-database mapping. Through this portion of discovery, we identify risks and create a plan for mitigating them.

Realistic planning makes the future real. We understand that database infrastructure upgrades are challenging. And we also know that avoiding disruption means you not only have to grasp the details of the IT infrastructure, but you’ll also have to take into account your organization’s business objectives. While we focus on enabling you to achieve your goal of aligning IT to the business outcomes, we understand what needs to take place in order for the migration to not impact your day-to-day operations.

Phase 2: From vision to execution

What does the future look like? Using the information from the assessment and comparing them to the future-state requirements, we design the new architecture and develop the migration plan for the SQL infrastructure, SSIS, SSRS, and SSAS components.

Getting down to details. A comprehensive test plan and database infrastructure implementation plan is the next critical stage. About 7 weeks into the project, we’re ready to take the final steps to prepare for the migration. It’s at this point that we create a detailed plan for moving applications and servers, tools selection, and supporting processes.

Deploying a new, modernized SQL infrastructure means taking into account the validation of processes, tools, and procedures and then building out the new infrastructure based on the detailed plan. Our program management office works with business stakeholders to identify and remediate any timeline impacts. Communication is the key to success in this phase.

Arriving at the destination. Our clients then want us to provide that critical execution oversight throughout the migration process. Execution and management of the program is handled by experienced program managers. Depending on the size of the organization and the complexity of the environment, this could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months—but the results will be apparent very quickly.

In my next blog, I’ll be talking about lessons learned and best practices that can help you avoid the pitfalls that many organizations encounter in their SQL Server migrations.

About the Author: Joe Terrell