Using Stretch Database to Get the Most from Your Data
by dhyun@affirma.com

In a local database, the only information that should be on premise is hot data, or data that is interacted with on a regular basis.

When cold data – data used very infrequently – takes up usable space on your server, it makes finding information that really matters that much more challenging. Eventually, when cold data overwhelms your local server, how do you respond? There are usually one of two actions users take once cold data becomes a burden: buying expensive infrastructure to maintain it, or storing it offline where it could easily get lost.

Prior to the general announcement of Azure SQL Server Stretch Database, these were essentially your only two options. Even though it may seem like a low priority, every company must be able to access all data, regardless of its temperature in case of potential audits.

What Stretch does is it takes data from a local database and after a designated period of inactivity automatically transfers it to the cloud – freeing up server storage while also keeping cold data readily accessible, if needed.

How to Use Stretch with your Azure Account

If you currently have any kind of Azure subscription, sign in to your account to effectively enable Stretch for a particular database or table.How you Should be Using Stretch DatabaseRun Stretch Database Advisor from Upgrade Advisor to determine if there are pre-existing limitations that will prevent Stretch from working its magic.

How you Should be Using Stretch DatabaseHow you Should be Using Stretch Database

Once the database to be Stretched is selected, potential tables are identified listing size, row counts, and quantity of compatibility issues.  This list can also be filtered by table name.

How you Should be Using Stretch Database

Limitations of using Stretch

As good as Stretch is, it’s not perfect. Not all tables are supported — making 100% table migration virtually impossible. Being able to use Stretch to migrate tables to the cloud depends on factors like table size, text format, indexes etc. Also, once in the cloud, data cannot be altered. Updating migrated information essentially requires “unStretching” it, reconfiguring it, then Stretching it back to the cloud. If you work for a company that is constantly making changes to its data (hot and cold), Stretch may not be right for you.

Azure is a truly powerful data storage system that lets you access any information you desire within seconds. While the idea of using Stretch Database is to provide a quick, powerful and cost effective way to store endless amounts of cold data, be sure to run a cost analysis of Stretch vs. other infrastructure maintenance systems, as others may be more cost effective for your business. To help you make the right Azure Service Decisions, weigh the pros and cons of Stretch and ensure seamless systems integration, contact one of our accredited Azure or Business Intelligence Consultants.

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