Understanding SQL Data Migration

By |2021-06-17T11:39:46+00:00November 6th, 2020|

SQL data migration is defined as the process of moving data to or from SQL Server. The migration process looks quite straightforward at first, but it involves a lot of complexity, especially when migrating a large volume of enterprise data.

When we look at it in terms of an ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) process, a data migration involves pulling data from one system, transforming and aggregating it as necessary, and loading it onto the destination server. This means that migration involves multiple phases, each of which come with their own set of challenges.

Understanding SQL Data Migration

In this guide to SQL data migration, we break down what is SQL data migration process and describe how migration tools, such as Astera Centerprise, can simplify the process.

What is Data Migration?

Data migration is defined as the process of transferring data from one location, such as database, file format, application, and storage systems, to another.

What is Data Migration in SQL?

Database migration in Microsoft SQL Server comprises moving data to a SQL server. There are some common circumstances that require users to either move or restore databases. The most popular reasons are:

  • Making a move to a new server.
  • Transferring to a different instance of SQL.
  • Developing a development server.
  • Restoring a database from a backup.

Process of Data Migration in SQL Server

A data migration project typically involves four significant stages as follows:

  1. Extract: Retrieving data from the source database to a staging or intermediary server.
  2. Standardize: Matching the source data to the destination formats could cater to compatibility issues with the data type or ensure that metadata correctly reflects the data.
  3. Aggregate and Cleanse: Perform any aggregation tasks to de-duplicate records and/or calculate derived fields.
  4. Load: Transferring the cleansed, aggregated, and transformed data into the target database.

All of these stages have to be carefully planned and tested before execution to ensure that data is migrated accurately. Unfortunately, the entire process can be quite time-consuming, especially if you build in-house data migration tools from scratch by writing your own code and stored procedures. Therefore, a better approach is to make use of an enterprise-grade data migration tool that can save you time and reduce the error probability.

What to Look for In an SQL Data Migration Tool?

We know that data migration involves ETL processes, so using a data integration tool to simplify this process makes sense. However, the next question is, what mapping tool suits your business’ migration needs the best? Here is a list of features that you should look for when picking the right tool for your organization:

  • Built-in connectors: An enterprise ecosystem includes numerous cloud applications and database systems, so opting for a tool that supports pre-built connectors should be a preference. For instance, if you are using the Microsoft tier, then you should be looking for the SQL Server connector at the very least.
  • Short learning curve: The purpose of using data migration tools is to reduce the overhead complexity and time of building an in-house solution. Therefore, the tool you choose should be easy to learn and use, ideally with a drag-and-drop GUI that simplifies your SQL Server migration pipelines.
  • Cloud compatibility: You should be able to access and work on your data pipelines from anywhere at any time, so the tool should support REST API connectivity.
  • Multi-purpose: A good tool should not be limited to just data migration tasks but should be flexible to be used for a range of ETL processes and integration tasks, such as switching versions of SQL Server or loading data from APIs/third-party services.

A Step-By-Step Guide to SQL Database Migration

In this section, we explain the data migration process with a step-by-step guide for you to follow. We will assume that you are migrating from one Microsoft SQL Server instance to another (and have already set up the schemas/data definitions in the destination instance). Here is how you can carry out your next SQL data migration project to different databases, such as SalesForce, Oracle, and many others, with Astera Centerprise.

sql data migration process explained

SQL Data Migration

  1. Add a connector for the source SQL Server database by adding the connection parameters (access credentials and database name). This can be an on-premises SQL Server database, as illustrated in the example.
  2. If you need to apply any transformations or aggregations, pick the suitable function, and add it to your migration pipeline. You can make use of these transformations to perform a number of functions, such as grouping data, calculating derived fields, or de-duplicating data. You can also use these to clean and translate your data in the format required by the target database.
  3. Add a connector for your target SQL Server database where you are migrating your data. In this example, our destination is the SQL Server database.
  4. Create data mappings between the two SQL Server databases. Centerprise provides you with a user-friendly and interactive interface for doing this where you can drag-and-drop the mapping from the source to destination. This makes it convenient for you to move SQL Server data between the two instances without having to rename columns.

This is just one example of how Astera Centerprise can serve as your data migration assistant and help make the data migration process easier and simpler for you. You can perform a variety of other migration tasks with it as well, such as modifying the data in the SQL server database, transfer it to a different relational database system (such as SAP HANA or MariaDB), or set up your organization’s data warehouse.


Businesses must undertake data migration projects for several reasons. For example, it could be to build a new data warehouse, overhaul your existing systems, or upgrade your database systems. Such projects are critical to organizations when migrating data between the source and target, and it is essential to plan and carefully test your migration to ensure there is no data loss.

Astera Centerprise is a powerful and feature-rich migration tool that streamlines every stage of your data migration procedure from preparation to integration to loading. It can become your data migration assistant for your next major migration project. If you are looking for an SQL data migration tool, give Astera Centerprise a try!

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