There’s no doubt that the cloud has become an integral part of most businesses these days. Even so, SQL Server DBAs and database professionals, in general, are among the more reluctant customers to adopt cloud technologies. Microsoft has recognized that most business are going to be sticking with their on-premise infrastructure for some time come and they developed several hybrid cloud options that can be of real value to even diehard SQL Server professionals. SQL Server 2016’s hybrid cloud capabilities can be important assets to businesses of all sizes, even if they are running on massively scalable hardware like the HPE Superdome X. SQL Server 2016 has deeper cloud integration than any previous release of SQL Server. Let’s take a closer look at some of SQL Server 2016’s hybrid cloud options.

AlwaysOn Availability Group Replicas in Azure
AlwaysOn Availability Groups (AGs) have been integrated with Azure enabling your to create AlwaysOn replicas in the cloud. SQL Server 2016’s AlwaysOn Azure integration enables you to create asynchronous AG replicas in Azure that can be used for offsite disaster recovery. Azure AG replicas run in Azure IaaS VMs. The Azure AlwaysOn capability is completely integrated into SMSS. SQL Server 2016’s SSMS provides a wizard that guides you through the process of configuring the Azure Replicas.

Stretch Databases
SQL Server 2016 Stretch Databases enable you to seamlessly extend a database from your on-premise SQL Server instance to Azure. Stretch databases work by transparently migrating your older – or cold data – from on-premise database storage to a Microsoft Azure SQL Database. You can elect to put entire tables on Azure or you can set up a date filter to selectively move older data to Azure. Users can access the data just as if it were all on local storage. SQL Server 2016 will seamlessly retrieve both the local data and the remote data in response to user queries. There can be some latency when queries need to access the remote data stored in Azure. For more information about stretch databases you can refer to the article -- Increasing your Storage Efficiency with SQL Server Stretch Databases.

SQL Server Data Files in Microsoft Azure

Another way that you can take advantage of the hybrid cloud from SQL Server is by using SQL Server Data Files in Microsoft Azure. SQL Server Data Files in Microsoft Azure enable you to move SQL Server database files from your on-premise SQL Server instance to Blob storage in Azure. Storing database files in Azure can help you to move databases between machines as well as helping you to migrate databases to Azure. You can also use it for storing historical data on low cost Azure storage, which can help reduce your local storage requirements. You can use SQL Server Data Files in Microsoft Azure with on-premise SQL Server instances as well SQL Server instances running in Azure IaaS virtual machines.

Backup to Azure
Another way that you can leverage the hybrid cloud with SQL Server 2016 is for database backup. SQL Server 2016 can use Microsoft Azure as a backup target. Backup to Azure is supported by both T-SQL and SSMS. SQL Server 2016 Backup to Azure has been enhanced to provide increased performance and functionality through the use of Azure blobs. The maximum backup size has been increased from 1 TB to 12.8 TB.

Managed Backup to Microsoft Azure
SQL Server Managed Backup is another option to back up SQL Server databases to Azure. SQL Server Managed Backup to Microsoft Azure is different from SQL Server Backup to Azure option. Managed Backups are designed for SMBs and businesses that don’t have a lot of SQL Server expertise. SQL Server Managed Backup to Windows Azure automates the SQL Server backup process. The backups are sent to Azure Blob storage. The backup frequency is based on the retention period and the transaction workload of the database.

SSIS Integration with Azure
SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) has also been integrated with Azure Data Factory and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Data Factory is a cloud-based data integration service that orchestrates and automates the movement and transformation of data. Azure Data Factory is intended to ingest, prepare, transform, analyze, and publish your data in the cloud. Azure SQL Data Warehouse is an elastic distributed data warehouse powered by a mutli-parallel processing engine with enterprise-class features. SQL Server 2016 SSIS is now able to load data into both of these Azure services.

Underwritten by HPE and Microsoft