By Ryan Geide | Senior Business Intelligence Developer, Kopis

As a Structured Query Language Managed Services provider at Kopis, I regularly talk to companies about data management. When it comes to data collection, I tend to encounter two positions:

  1. Many of my clients track and capture more data than ever before, but they don’t have the hardware or the expertise to dive in and extract anything meaningful. A company may have five or six years of financial data stored, but wading through that much data requires a cost-prohibitive amount of processing power. No one wants to spend $50,000-$60,000 on a server farm to get through it all.
  1. Other clients are not inclined to capture their available data in the first place because they know they don’t have the budget or resources to do anything with it. While they may want to create more in-depth quarterly or end-of-year reports, these companies feel it doesn’t make sense to invest in hardware that gives them the capability to process data once per quarter but sits unused the rest of the year.

This is where Azure comes in. Until recently, the ability to capture data has run ahead of the capacity that most companies have to store and process that data — but the cloud is changing that. Many businesses don’t want to migrate their databases to Azure as a permanent solution just yet, but maintaining your databases well becomes difficult when you’re sharing those same resources for reporting. Migrating to Azure for reporting allows companies to scale up when the resources are in use and scale down when they aren’t. This makes data processing more affordable and lowers the cost of entry for small to mid-sized companies. Extending your capacity through Azure also enables companies to freely experiment and run tests in a different environment without breaking your SQL Server.

Whether your company has a backlog of unprocessed data or you would like to start collecting and processing more of your available data, migrating your SQL Server to Azure on a temporary basis can give you a practical path forward, extend your capacity as needed and allow you to run reports in the cloud rather than robbing resources from your SQL environment.

Let’s imagine you’re a Plant Manager who has an Enterprise Resource Planning database that contains all your production transaction data. Perhaps you want to review your standard costing, but running queries against the entire year on the production ERP database might impact users in the system. You have all the raw data available, so you could begin pushing it into Azure. Once in Azure, you can run all kinds of aggregations on the data and put it into a meaningful, useable shape. Once the data is processed, you no longer need the same capacity. The processed data uses virtually no resources.

Getting Started in Azure

Migrating your data from your local server to the cloud is simple. The process can become more complex depending on how much customization you require. For example, you could set up an ongoing transfer that moves data on an hourly or daily basis from your On-Prem database server to Azure for reporting, but that may be phase two of the project.

We love to help clients start doing more with their data, rather than letting it pile up and bog down their business. The basic steps for setting up your initial Azure database are:

  • Create a Database in Azure. The Azure User Interface does a fantastic job helping users create a database. Click on “Add a New Resource” and choose “Database,” and the easy-to-understand UI tutorial will walk you through your options.
  • Set up Your End Points for Data Migration. Once you’ve created your database, you will need to establish your skeleton, or your end points, to ensure your data will translate well into Azure. Again, Azure has a user-friendly tool to help you through this process: The Data Migration Assistant will run a check to make sure your framework makes sense.
  • Transfer all Raw Data. The final step is to transfer all raw data onto your skeleton, where you can run tests and queries to check data integrity. Azure allows you to use the same tool you use to look at your data on your SQL database, the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). If you’re a database administrator, checking your data in Azure should feel familiar.

The Kopis SQL Managed Services team is here to help you with your data migration and to look at the data and mine it for insights once it’s in Azure.

About the Author: Kopis database administrator Ryan Geide focuses primarily on SQL Server managed services for rapid-growth businesses and other organizations in the Upstate and throughout the United States. Ryan moved to Greenville from South Florida 15 years ago to attend Bob Jones University, where he received a B.A. in Information Systems Management with a minor in Accounting. He enjoys raising his kids in South Carolina, building computers from scratch and reading classical fiction.

Editor’s Note: Kopis is a sponsorship partner of the South Carolina Association of CPAs.