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How to migrate SQL Server 2008 applications to Azure

With Extended Support for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 ending in July 2019, to be followed six months later by the end of Extended Support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 in January 2020, the clock is ticking on making changes to certain legacy applications. Upgrading to the latest versions is always an option, but Microsoft is providing an alternative when upgrades are not viable: Migrate the applications to the Azure cloud to get three more years of free Extended Security Update support.

Microsoft’s offer: “Customers who migrate workloads to Azure virtual machines will have access to Extended Security Updates for both SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 for three years after the End of Support deadlines, included at no additional charge over the standard VM pricing.” To assist with the migration, Microsoft permits existing on-premises licenses to be transferred to the Azure cloud, and also offers a 180-day transition period during which a single license applies concurrently on-premises and in the cloud.

For those legacy SQL Server 2008/R2 applications that remain critical, some form of high availability or disaster recovery protection will be required to preserve business continuity. It is possible to fully protect these legacy applications in the state-of-the-art Azure cloud, of course, but that requires understanding and properly configuring the necessary provisions. And with decade-old software, getting it right can be somewhat challenging.

This article provides an overview of the high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) provisions available for SQL Server 2008/R2 in the Azure cloud and highlights two common HA/DR configurations. It is important to note that the provisions discussed here also apply to later versions of SQL Server and Windows Server, making them suitable for other applications, including any legacy ones being upgraded. Any differences among the different versions will be noted.

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