Transferring Schema and Data From SQL Server to SQL Azure – Part 1: Tools

Transferring Schema and Data From SQL Server to SQL Azure – Part 1: Tools

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Many customers are moving existing workloads into SQL Azure or are developing on premise but move production environments to the SQL Azure. For most folks, that means transferring schema and data from SQL Server to SQL Azure.

When transferring schema and data, there are a few tools to choose from. Here is a quick table to give you the options.

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Here is a quick overview of the tools;

Generate Script Wizard

This option is available through Management Studio 2008 R2. GSW has built in understanding of SQL Azure engine type can generate the correct options when scripting SQL Server database schema. GSW provides great fine grained control on what to script. It can also move data, especially if you are looking to move small amounts of data for one time. However for very large data, there are more efficient tools to do the job.

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Figure 1. To use generate script wizard, right click on the database then go under tasks and select “Generate Script”.

DAC Packages

DACPacs are a new way to move schema through the development lifecycle. DACPacs are a self contained package of all database schema as well as developers deployment intent so they do more than just move schema between SQL Server and SQL Azure but they can be used for easy transfer of schema between SQL Server and SQL Azure. You can use DACPacs pre or post deployment scripts to move data with DACPacs but again, for very large data, there are more efficient tool to do the job.

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Figure 2. To access DAC options, expand the “Management” section in the SQL instance and select “Data-tier Applications” for additional options.

SQL Server Integration Services

SSIS is a best of breed data transformation tools with full programmable flow with loops, conditionals and powerful data transformation tasks. SSIS provides full development lifecycle support with great debugging experience. Beyond SQL Server, It can work with diverse set of data sources and destinations for data movement. SSIS also is the technology that supports easy-to-use utilities like Import & Export Wizard so can be a great powerful tool to move data around. You can access Import and Export Wizard directly from the SQL Server 2008 R2 folder under the start menu

BCP & Bulk Copy API

Bulk Copy utility is both a tool (bcp.exe) and API (System.Data.SqlClient.SqlBulkCopy) to move structured files in and out of SQL Server and SQL Azure. It provides great performance and fine grained control for how the data gets moved. There are a few options that can help fine-tune data import and export performance.

In Part 2 of this post, we’ll take a closer look at bcp and high performance data uploads.

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