Migrating on Premise SQL Server to the Azure Cloud

Welcome to XTrends latest blog.

Title: Migrating on Premise SQL Server to the Azure Cloud

Today, we talk about moving an on premise SQL server database from your server to the cloud. Your boss might think that it’s easy to just pick up the old server data and upload it to the cloud. In reality, the project requires strategy, planning and technical experience.

To start, let’s do a quick overview on many of the benefits of moving to cloud. There are a wide range of benefits that provide a great overall ROI (Rate of Investment). Listed below are some.

  • Maintenance: Database day to day management becomes much easier when a third-party is responsible to service it
  • Advanced features: Today’s cloud service providers can provide the best database services already available on their platform
  • Scalability: Easily scale up or down on storage based on data requirements
  • Ubiquity: Replication is a thing from the past. The cloud is “everywhere” which eliminates the need to replicate data to reach users by location

For the project to be successful, organization is very important. Let’s plan the project timeline, infrastructure and requirements.

The Technology

For this project, we will assume moving On Premise SQL Server to Azure cloud. The project planning for moving to AWS or another cloud provider will be similar but of course the technology tasks will be different.

The first task is to test compatibility to the target cloud platform. Compatibility issues are the main causes of database problems when migrating. There are various tools and methods to test for compatibility. This particular process is outside the scope of this blog but I encourage the developers to properly research this process before proceeding.

The next task is to plan the project. There are two main ways to migrate SQL Server to Azure. The first is simpler but may require significant downtime for the existing database.

Figure 1 shows a process document recommended by Microsoft for this procedure.

Migrating on Premise SQL Server to the Azure Cloud

SQL Server Migration

The 2nd option is more complex but is required if you can’t bring your production database down while performing the migration. This method uses transactional replication as a migration solution. The source database must meet the requirements for transactional replication and be compatible for Azure SQL Database. The typical workflow for this type of migration is following.

  1. Set up Distribution
  2. Create Publication
  3. Create Subscription

The Project plan

While many companies are adept at using Agile methodology for software delivery, sometimes the practice is lost when doing infrastructure and web operation projects similar to this one. We recommend combining this project with overall software Sprints. It helps with communication, planning and effort.

Sprint 1 (2 weeks)

  • Prepare source environment
  • Test compatibility
  • Compile list of coding changes
  • Backup database

Sprint 2 (2 weeks)

  • Make coding changes
  • Test and Test again
  • Go-Live

***more sprints maybe required for code changes, testing based on the application and the migration method as discussed above.


Have you been tasked to plan a migrate a on premise SQL server to Azure cloud? This blog provides a high-level summary of how to go about successfully delivering this project.

I hope this helps you get started in the project planning. Please do not hesitate to reach out to info@xcelacore.com for specific questions.


Why Aren’t Enterprises Allocating Budget for Digital Metrics?

We just returned from the AMA Conference: Analytics With Purpose, held in Scottsdale earlier this week. This was Xcelacore’s first time sponsoring an AMA event and we were honored to represent the business. This was a great opportunity to hear from industry experts on best practices and learn what other leading companies like AOL, American Cancer Society, Charles Schwab, and IBM are working on (not to mention the great Superbowl party!).

Most importantly, it gave me a chance to meet other marketers and hear about their challenges. Many of the attendees I talked to were there to learn more about analytics and then apply them at their companies. An important pattern I noticed was that many marketers are struggling to figure out where to start with analytics and digital marketing technologies. Some have pieces of the puzzle in place, but not everything is connected. Others are further along. Every company is at a different place in the maturity curve for implementing and using marketing technologies.

But the common theme is the lack of resources and expertise internally to get where they want to be. Almost everyone talked about realizing the importance of having the right tools (including digital analytics) in place to be more efficient and informed on how their marketing activities are performing. So that left me wondering why enterprises aren’t allocating a bigger budget to make it happen. Why wouldn’t you want to have visibility into your marketing activities’ success and ROI?

I have some theories on this, having run marketing organizations in previous roles. But I would love to hear from you directly. Write me at mansoor@xcelacore.com and we can exchange some ideas on this topic.

Email Marketing: Connecting Your Email Marketing Provider to Google Analytics

Setting up your digital infrastructure is very important for any business, but it is also fairly complicated when starting off. First of all, you need to select a email provider. For small business, Mailchimp and Constant Contact are great options. For enterprise, ExactTarget and Silverpop are more appropriate options. Next, Google Analytics needs to be set up to run on your website and configured for conversions. Your on your way to being a digital rock star. You start your newsletter campaigns hoping to see all the email traffic you have generated only to realize that your GA report is not showing email traffic. Figure 1 shows a channel report from Google Analytics. The third entry per the image below should should you how much traffic you have gained from email. But if you haven’t properly integrated the two platforms, all the traffic may be classified as direct and you’ll never know the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

Figure 1



So, how do you solve? It’s different in each platform but generally configuring the platform requires some form of administrative setup to use the google analytics campaign variables. As a quick review, below is a list of the Google Analytics campaign variables that you have the option of setting on each email, link you would like to track: More information is available at https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en


In ExactTarget, when you start the engagement, it’s critical that you tell your account rep that you want a link similar to the following set for your account: ?utm_source=exacttarget&utm_medium=email. This will ensure base level reporting so that Google Analytics can identify the source and medium of your emails. To take it a step further, you will need to look further at configuring the ExactTarget web connector for configuring campaign and email level data. More information can be found here: https://help.marketingcloud.com/en/documentation/integrated_products__crm_and_web_analytic_solutions/web_analytics_connector/ .


In Silverpop, the setup is very similar except you won’t need help from an account rep to make the update. You can use the following documentation to create an append string that will be concatenated to every email. Use the following documentaiton https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/SSTSRG/Step_1_Configure_the_Append_String.html. More advanced setup such as campaign name passing is also available.


To keep this short, I will also quickly provide the links on how to how to make this integration work in both Constant Contact and MailChimp. Please review and feel free to reach out with any questions.


Constant Contact: http://support2.constantcontact.com/articles/FAQ/2687#Add



In summary, I can’t state the importance of making sure your email marketing platform and Google Analytics are integrated and working correctly together. If you’re going to be a digital marketing rockstar, you’ll need to take these steps to complete this configuration.