Azure Data Migration: 5 Tools to Know About

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Read more about author Gilad David Maayan.

With many organizations migrating their critical workloads to cloud environments, choosing the appropriate data migration solutions is increasingly important. Identifying the right tools is a key step in the data migration process. 

There are several use cases and possible scenarios for a data migration project. For example, you might lift and shift the data from your virtual machines (VMs), redeploy existing workloads and migrate the data, migrate your database, or migrate your backups and data archives. 

Migrating data from on-premises to the cloud is important for enabling digital transformation, regardless of the type of organization. There may be different business use cases for migrating to Azure. Two primary use cases are:

  • Cost optimization: Moving workloads to the cloud in order to reduce operating costs 
  • Cloud optimization: Improving the organization’s use of cloud resources, for example, by migrating resources to another cloud provider to leverage that provider’s capabilities

The Azure cloud environment offers multiple services and tools to help implement the data migration from an on-premises environment to the cloud. The cloud migration tools you use will depend on your business case and migration strategy.

Azure Data Migration Tools: 5 Tools to Know About

Azure Database Migration Service (DMS)

Azure DMS facilitates offline and online migrations from several databases to various Azure data platforms with minimal downtime. This service generates assessment reports using the Microsoft Data Migration Assistant and performs the identified tasks.

Migrating SQL Server Databases with Azure Database Migration Service

The service lets you perform either online or offline migrations. Offline migrations require shutting down the migrated server at the beginning of the process, which results in downtime. Online migrations involve continuously synchronizing live data to allow a cutover to the Azure replica database at all times. This option is ideal for minimizing downtime.

Azure Database Migration Service Pricing Tiers

The service offers two main tiers: standard and premium. The standard pricing tier is free for offline migrations but does not support online migrations. The premium tier supports offline and online migrations and charges only after the first six months. 

Azure Migrate

Azure Migrate offers a simplified migration, optimization, and modernization service. It includes pre-migration steps such as assessments, discovery, and right-sizing on-premises resources for infrastructure, applications, and data. It provides an extensible framework for integrating third-party tools to expand the scope of supported use cases. 

Azure Migrate Hub Tools

The hub provides various tools, including discovery and assessment tools, to locate on-premises servers running on Hyper-V, VMware, and physical servers when migrating to Azure. Once you discover the server, the hub offers tools to help migrate VMware and Hyper-V VMs, public cloud VMs, and physical servers to Azure.

You can use the Data Migration Assistant to assess your SQL Servers. This standalone tool can help you pinpoint potential problems that might block the migration. It recommends new features to use after the migration, identifies unsupported features, and charts a suitable path for database migration. The Azure App Service Migration Assistant is another standalone tool to help you assess the on-premises websites you want to migrate to Azure App Service.

Azure Synapse Pathway

Modernizing data warehouse systems typically requires translating SQL code, a challenging task that often prevents organizations from proceeding with a migration. This code was written and optimized especially for their system, but it needs to be optimized for the new system they want to migrate to.

Modernizing analytics platforms enables organizations to enjoy innovation and total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits. Having invested working hours and written many lines of code for their existing data warehouse, they cannot throw this investment away. However, to translate this SQL code, they need to manually rewrite it or invest in converting their code.

Azure Synapse Pathway enables you to automate the code translation of an existing data warehouse. This free and easy-to-use tool automates this process to facilitate a quicker migration to Azure Synapse Analytics. The Azure Synapse Pathway service can significantly reduce migration costs and accelerate migration time from months to minutes.

Azure Data Box

This cloud solution provides a quick, reliable, and cost-effective way to send terabytes of data into and out of the Azure cloud. It facilitates secure data transfers by shipping a proprietary Data Box storage device to your data center through a regional carrier. Each device is limited to a maximum usable storage capacity of 80 TB and comes with a rugged casing to protect data during transit.

Data Box Use Cases

Data Box is ideal for transferring over 40 TBs of data in scenarios that do not include limited network connectivity. It provides various data movements, such as periodic, one-time, or an initial one-time transfer followed by periodic data transfers.

You can leverage Data Box to transfer data from offline tapes into the Azure clout to create an online media library or move historical data for analysis and reporting with Azure HDInsight. Data Box can help you perform a one-time transfer of big data to Azure, periodic uploads of videos, or set up a combination of bulk and periodic transfers. 

Azure Backup and Site Recovery

Azure Backup lets you take data backups from various sources, including on-premises servers, managed disks, Azure VMs, and Azure file shares. It can support a data migration by letting you restore your backup data into a target environment in Azure. 

This service includes built-in consistency for various enterprise applications, including SQL server, Sharepoint, and Exchange, to ensure you can easily use the restored data to deploy a working environment without extra overhead.

Azure Site Recovery enables you to replicate on-premises data or data from other cloud environments to the Azure cloud. It lets you perform replication and one-time failover of your source environment to Azure. It employs an application-consistent, snapshot-based replication process to ensure the integrity of applications after failover.


In this article, I explained the basics of Azure migration and covered five tools provided by Microsoft that can help you carry out your migration more easily:

  • Azure Database Migration Service (DMS)
  • Azure Migrate
  • Azure Synapse Pathway
  • Azure Data Box
  • Azure Backup and Site Recovery

I hope this will be useful as you plan your move to the Azure cloud.

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