Microsoft Azure has a variety of tools to assist with copying your data from your current platform to their public cloud service. These range from powerful command line tools to copy unstructured data to dedicated tools for database migrations. However, before we look at the different tools that help migrate your data, we need to consider the actual data types you will be migrating.
Before we look at the different types of data migration options available to you, it is important to understand the different types of storage available on Azure and the ideal function of each storage type.
There are multiple data types supported by Azure services. These range from structured data such as relational database management systems which support data stored in SQL databases to unstructured data which can be stored in blobs, files, queues or NoSQL tables
The type of migration you will be undertaking depends on what kind of storage you will be copying your data to, so you should understand these basic concepts before you start the migration process. Selecting the right type of data store is an essential precursor to a successful migration. The data store you choose forms the foundation of your cloud solution and the migration to each type differs from store to store.
Three useful tools to use while Azure Data Migration
Now that we have an understanding of the different data types and how Azure stores this data, let’s look at the tools available for data migration. As there are different data types, ensuring you select the right tool is essential to your migration success.
Tools for migrating unstructured data
Unstructured data migrated to Azure will ultimately need to be stored in an Azure storage account. Azure storage accounts have three different types of data services each with its own unique set of characteristics which you’ll to need to align with your data use cases. Azure blob storage is optimized for storing massive amounts of unstructured data, such as text or binary data while Azure file storage lets you set up a file share in the cloud. Finally, Azure queue service stores messages for event queues such as those created and consumed by enterprise service busses.
There are multiple tools which help you manage data in an Azure storage account. These include Azure Storage Explorer which has an easy to use graphical user interface to command line tools such as AZCopy, Azure Powershell, and the Azure CLI.
1 – Azure Storage Explorer
Azure Storage Explorer allows you to easily manage your Azure storage accounts via an installed client-side application which runs on Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
Migrating data with Azure Storage Explorer is as simple as copy and pasting files into a standard operating system file system manager. Naturally, the larger the size of the data and the speed of the network will impact how long it will take to copy data from the source location to your Azure storage account subscription.
Command Line Tools for migrating unstructured data
2 – AzCopy
AzCopy is a command line utility built specifically to aid users in copying data from external sources to Azure storage. Also, AzCopy also lets you copy data from one Azure storage account to another and even copy data across subscriptions.
This command line utility, which in essence is the stripped-down copy functionality from Azure Storage Explorer, is available for both Microsoft and Linux platforms. To use this utility, you will need some familiarity with command line syntax which makes it a little less simple to use than Azure Storage Explorer. However, as it is a command line interface, it can be installed on systems which do not have a graphical user interface such as Windows Core, Windows Nano, and Linux servers.
3 – Azure PowerShell
PowerShell is a command line scripting language built by Microsoft which gives you the ability to interact with Microsoft technologies via a task-based interactive shell. Azure PowerShell is a set of PowerShell cmdlets created to communicate with Azure Resource Manager letting you manage Azure services via the command line.
Azure PowerShell, like Azure Storage Explorer and AzCopy, allows you to manage the transfer of data to, from, and within Azure storage accounts. With Azure PowerShell, you can script an entire data migration by creating a storage account for copying and verifying the data.
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