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Max
Max

Posted on • Originally published at github.com

Merging development and production MS SQL databases for cloud migration

A practical guide for large-scale "on-prem" to Azure SQL migration projects

It can take a long time to prepare a system for migration to a cloud environment. There is a chance that the production codebase has changed during that time. This post offers a simple solution for identifying and merging such changes. The post is very specific to Azure migration and is unlikely to be of interest in any other context.

Our cloud migration project took 3 months from taking a snapshot of all production databases to making the code fully compatible with Azure SQL. In the meantime, the SQL code in production changed to keep up with customer requests and bug fixes. We decided to ignore the changes until the very end of migration to compare and merge the entire codebase in a single sweep. That decision was based on the universal precaution principle because there could also be any number of untracked changes we didn't know about and could miss if we relied on tracking the changes in production.

This diagram illustrates the relationship between DB codebase and the Git repository as a timeline.

process diagram deployment

Background

The system consisted of two types of MS SQL databases: customer and shared (central) databases.

Every customer had a separate DB with a standardized schema and identical (in theory) codebase. Every shared DB had a different schema and codebase. All databases were tightly linked via cross-DB SQL queries.

cust vs shared

Customer databases

Customer DBs had data specific to a single customer, but shared the same codebase. In practice, there were minute differences in the codebase as well. E.g. customer-specific code and accumulation of Dev-Ops errors.

Only the differences affecting Azure compatibility would have to be identified and merged.

Naming convention:

  • c_4vallees_base - the original customer DB snapshot taken for development
  • c_4vallees_model - c_4vallees_base modified for Azure
  • c_4vallees - the latest copy from production
  • c_8hdke93, c_a83hdk2, c_hdj3ud5 - the latest production copies of other customer DBs

Shared databases

Shared DBs had schema and code that were specific to each DB. No code was shared between them.

  • central, helpdesk, reporting - latest production copies
  • central_base, helpdesk_base, reporting_base - original snapshots taken for development (before any Azure modifications)

Merge sequence

Start with 3 sets of T-SQL code for each database:

  • base - the original snapshot before Azure modifications
  • model - a modified snapshot that works on Azure
  • prod - the latest copy from production

and compare them in this order

  1. base to model to get the list of all Azure compatibility changes
  2. base to prod to find out changed in production while we were busy modding base for Azure
  3. merge prod and model

The main advantage of using this method is that it can be re-run on a newer production set within minutes if the Azure deployment was delayed or rolled back.

high level merge

Project structure

All scripts provided in this guide rely on the following file structure:

  • \ - root_solution_folder
    • db - contains folders with T-SQL code from snapshot DBs
    • c_4vallees - T-SQL code of c_4vallees DB, including its own GIT repo
    • central - same for central and other DBs
    • helpdesk
    • reporting
    • etc ...
    • utils - all sorts of shell and SQL scripts for code refactoring and automation
    • staging-diff - diff files for comparing base and model versions
    • customer-dbs - modified code for customer DBs, based on a single customer model DB

All SQL code was committed to Git repositories, one repo per shared DB and one repo for a sample customer DB (c_4vallees). The rest of customer databases were supposed to be identical to the sample.

Step 1: identifying Azure compatibility modifications

This script diffs the latest version of modified (model) DBs against their original (base) state and outputs a list of SQL objects changed for migration. We will need this list to limit our search for changes in production to those objects only. Any other production changes will carry over to Azure as-is.

This and all the other scripts in this guide should be run from the solution root because they expect database repositories to be in ./db/db_name folders.

Required input vars:

  • $diffDBs - an array with DB names, e.g. $diffDBs = @("central", "helpdesk", "reporting")
  • $diffFolderName - relative path to the output folder, e.g. $diffFolderName = "staging-diff"

Output: a collection of diff files, one per DB, e.g. staging-diff/init-head-diff-db_name.txt

. (Join-Path $PSScriptRoot vars.ps1)

# prepare paths and variables
$rootDir = (Get-Item -Path ".\").FullName
$diffDir = Join-Path $rootDir $diffFolderName

# create a folder for diffs, if needed
if (!(Test-Path -Path $diffDir )) {
  New-Item -Path $rootDir -Name $diffFolderName -ItemType "directory" -Force | Out-Null
}
"Diff folder: $diffDir"

foreach ($dbName in $diffDBs) {
  "`nDB: $dbName"

  # try to checkout master branch
  $dbCodeFolder = Join-Path "db" $dbName
  git -C $dbCodeFolder checkout master --force
  if ($LASTEXITCODE -ne 0) {
    Write-Host "Cannot checkout MASTER on $dbCodeFolder" -ForegroundColor DarkRed
    continue
  }

  # get the very first commit with the unmodified (base) code
  $allCommits = git -C $dbCodeFolder rev-list HEAD
  $initialCommit = $allCommits.split()[-1]
  "Initial commit: $initialCommit"

  # save the list of all modified files
  $diffFileName = Join-Path $diffDir "init-head-diff-$dbName.txt"
  if (!(Test-Path -Path $diffFileName )) {
    $modFiles = git -C $dbCodeFolder diff --name-only $initialCommit HEAD
    "Files in diff: " + $modFiles.split().length
    Set-Content -Path $diffFileName -Value $modFiles
  }
  else {
    Write-Host "Diff file already exist: $diffFileName" -ForegroundColor Yellow
  }
}
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The contents of the output from the script above is a list of all the file names (objects) affected by Azure modifications, per each DB. The file names conform to SSMS object scripting format: owner.object.type.sql, one file per object.

sample diff output

Step 2: identifying recent changes in PROD

In this step, we compare the code directly between base and prod DBs using sys.syscomments tables to avoid exporting and committing all objects from production DBs into Git repos. The comparison is done by an open source CLI tool(AZPM) we had to build for this project.

This PowerShell script relies on the output from Step 1 and should also be run from the solution root.

Required input vars:

  • $diffDBs - an array with DB names, e.g. $diffDBs = @("central", "helpdesk", "reporting")
  • $diffFolderName - relative path to the output folder, e.g. $diffFolderName = "staging-diff"
  • $azpm - location of Azure migration CLI tool, e.g. $azpm = "C:\Temp\AzurePoolCrossDbGenerator.exe"
  • $modelCustomerDB - name of the model customer DB. It is required only if you are processing customer DBs from a single model.

Output: new Git repo branches with unstaged files

. (Join-Path $PSScriptRoot vars.ps1)

# prepare paths and variables
$rootDir = (Get-Item -Path ".\").FullName
$diffDir = Join-Path $rootDir $diffFolderName
"Diff folder: $diffDir"

# check if the diff folder exists
if (!(Test-Path -Path $diffDir )) {
  Write-Host "Cannot access the diffs in $diffDir " -ForegroundColor Red
  Exit
}

foreach ($dbName in $diffDBs) {
  $dbBase = $dbName + "_base" # the original version of the DB used for development
  $dbCodeDir = Join-Path "db" $dbName # folder with the code repo
  $diffFileName = Join-Path $diffDir "init-head-diff-$dbName.txt"
  <# Uncomment this block if processing customer DBs to compare them to the same base
  $dbBase = $modelCustomerDB + "_base"
  $dbCodeDir = Join-Path "db" $modelCustomerDB
  $diffFileName = Join-Path $diffDir "init-head-diff-$modelCustomerDB.txt"
  #>

  "`nStaging DB: $dbName"
  "Base DB: $dbBase"
  "Code repo: $dbCodeDir"

  # get the list of modified files
    if (!(Test-Path -Path $diffFileName )) {
    Write-Host "Cannot access diff file: $diffFileName" -ForegroundColor Red
    continue
  }

  # try to checkout master branch
  git -C $dbCodeDir checkout master --force
  if ($LASTEXITCODE -ne 0) {
    Write-Host "Cannot checkout MASTER on $dbCodeDir" -ForegroundColor Red
    exit
  }

  # get the initial commit
  $allCommits = git -C $dbCodeDir rev-list HEAD
  $initialCommit = $allCommits.split()[-1]
  "Initial commit on master: $initialCommit"

  # check out the very first commit into a new branch
  $branchName = $dbName +"-" + (Get-Date -Format "yyyyMMddHHmm")
  git -C $dbCodeDir checkout -B $branchName $initialCommit
  if ($LASTEXITCODE -ne 0) {
    "Failed to checkout $initialCommit as branch $branchName"
    continue
  }

  # extract changed files from the diff list into the DB folder
  $csl = "`"Persist Security Info=False;Integrated Security=SSPI;Initial Catalog=$dbName;Server=.`"" # staging DB (latest prod)
  $csb = "`"Persist Security Info=False;Integrated Security=SSPI;Initial Catalog=$dbBase;Server=.`"" # a DB with the original code (base)
  $wd = Join-Path $rootDir $dbCodeDir

  Start-Process -FilePath $azpm -ArgumentList @("extract", "-csl", $csl, "-csb", $csb, "-l", "$diffFileName") -NoNewWindow -Wait -WorkingDirectory $wd

  # multiple customer DBs are extracted into the same folder, so we need to stash the changes to keep them separate
  # the stashes would need to be popped manually for further editing
    $stashMsg = "staging"
    git -C $dbCodeDir stash push -m $stashMsg
    # run `git stash clear` to remove all stashes in the repo

}
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Customer DBs vs Shared DBs

The data in our system was partitioned into a single-DB per customer and several shared DBs for reporting, lists of values and taxonimies. All shared DBs were compared to their base. It was a 1:1 relationship. We could create a GIT branch for every comparison in every repo and leave the changes staged for review.

Customer DBs, on the other hand, were all compared to the same sample DB called 4vallees_base. To keep the Git repo clean we stashed the changes for every customer DB to base comparison before moving onto the next DB. Stashing allowed us to review the diffs before making a commit.

For example, comparing customer DB c_hdj3ud5 to base creates stash c_hdj3ud5-202002211117:staging.

Git branches

The screenshot above shows 3 branches named DB + timestamp with corresponding stashes to be reviewed and merged with the Azure-ready code.

Step 3: merging base and prod

The purpose of this merge is to converge our base version with the latest PROD changes.

For example, the diff in the screenshot below told us that prod had some new columns we had to incorporate into our Azure modifications.

First Diff

After some "cherry-picking" we ended up with this version of accepted differences for a merge:

Second diff

Once base and prod were merged the tree had 2 branches: master for the model DB and c_8hdke93-202002211116 for PROD,

Tree before merge

followed by a merge with all Azure compatibility changes from master.

Fully merged with Azure

This diff confirmed that our Azure compatibility changes were present: cross-DB queries were correctly merged with Azure modifications and the new column names from PROD.

Azure changes diff

We repeated the merge for the other customer DBs from stashes and kept all customer-specific changes within their branches.

3 DBs, 3 branches

Applying merged changes back to PROD DBs

The following script generates SQL files with the merged code for all shared and customer DBs. The scripts can then be applied to PROD databases.

Run the script from the solution root.

Required input vars:

  • $dbCustomers - an array with DB names, e.g. $dbCustomers = @("c_8hdke93", "c_a83hdk2", "c_hdj3ud5")
  • $modelCustomerDB - name of the model customer DB, e.g. $modelCustomerDB = "4vallees"
  • Copy the diff for customer model DB to customer_dbs\diff.txt and make changes to the list inside, if needed
  • This version of the script assumes that the SQL code modified for Azure is identical between all customer DBs. There may still be differences in other parts of customer databases, but what changed for Azure is identical.

Output: scripts for all modified objects are saved in .\customer_dbs\db_name folders.

. (Join-Path $PSScriptRoot vars.ps1)

# source folder name - using the model DB
$sd = "db\" + $modelCustomerDB

# get the list of modified files from a diff
$diffFile = "customer-dbs\diff.txt"
if (!(Test-Path -Path $diffFile )) { 
  Write-Host "Missing the list of files to export: $diffFile" -ForegroundColor Red
  Exit
}

$diffFiles = (Get-Content $diffFile)

# remove all target DB scripts from the previous run
Write-Host "Deleting all SQL files in the target location ..." -ForegroundColor Yellow
foreach ($db in $dbCustomers) {
  $dbPath = "customer-dbs\" + $db
  if (Test-Path -Path $dbPath ) { Remove-Item -Path $dbPath -Force -Recurse }
}

$firstRun = 1 # reset to 0 after the first DB to reduce console output

foreach ($db in $dbCustomers) {

  Write-Host "$db" -ForegroundColor Yellow

  # target folder name - using the customer DB name
  $td = "customer-dbs\" + $db

  # process all SQL files from the diff
  foreach ($sqlFile in $diffFiles.Split("`n")) {

    if (! ($sqlFile -match ".+\.sql$")) {
      # report skipped files on the first run only
      if ($firstRun -eq 1) { Write-Host "Skipped $sqlFile" -ForegroundColor Yellow }
      continue
    }

    # check if the source file exists
    $sqlSourceFileName = Join-Path $sd $sqlFile
    if (!(Test-Path -Path $sqlSourceFileName )) { 
      if ($firstRun -eq 1) { Write-Host "Missing $sqlFile" -ForegroundColor Red } 
      continue
    }

    # replace model DB name with the target DB name
    $sqlTargetFileName = Join-Path $td $sqlFile

    # replace the contents of the file
    New-Item -Path $sqlTargetFileName -Force | Out-Null
    (Get-Content $sqlSourceFileName) | Foreach-Object { $_ -replace "$modelCustomerDB", "$db" } | Set-Content $sqlTargetFileName -Force
    # The () brackets around Get-Content are needed to make the file writable. Otherwise it would be locked.
  }

  # reset this flag to reduce console output
  $firstRun = 0
}
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Running the above script for our 3 customer DBs produced ~ 600 SQL files.

customer DB scripts

The following script applies the files generated in the previous step to production databases. Run it from the solution root.

Required input vars:

  • $dbCustomers - an array with DB names, e.g. $dbCustomers = @("c_8hdke93", "c_a83hdk2", "c_hdj3ud5")
  • $customerDBsFolderName - set to $customerDBsFolderName = "customer-dbs".

Output: processed DB names and error messages from SQLCMD utility.

. (Join-Path $PSScriptRoot vars.ps1)

foreach ($db in $dbCustomers) {
  Write-Host "$db" -ForegroundColor Yellow

  # folder name with DB files
  $td = Join-Path $customerDBsFolderName $db 
  if (!(Test-Path -Path $td )) {
    Write-Host "# Missing DB folder $db" -ForegroundColor Red
    continue
  }

  # get the list of files
  $allFiles = Get-ChildItem -Path $td -Filter "*.sql"
  foreach ($sqlFileName in $allFiles) {
    # file name as `customer-dbs\db_name\file_name.sql`
    $sqlFullFileName = (Join-Path $td $sqlFileName.Name)
    # run the SQL file on the local server, add -U and -P params if needed
    sqlcmd -b -S . -d $db -i `"$sqlFullFileName`"
    # output the file name for troubleshooting if there was a problem
    if ($LASTEXITCODE -ne 0) { $sqlFullFileName }
  }
}
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This script exports all production DBs with their Azure modifications into .bacpac files required by Azure SQL DB import process. Run it from the root of the solution.

Required input vars:

  • $dbs - an array with DB names, e.g. $dbs = @("c_8hdke93", "c_a83hdk2", "c_hdj3ud5")
  • Environmental var SA_PWD - enter your sa password in there.

Output: .bacpac files per DB in bacpac folder.

. (Join-Path $PSScriptRoot vars.ps1)

# output folder
$folder = "bacpac"

# create the output forlder on the first run
if (!(Test-Path -Path $folder )) {
  New-Item -Path . -Name $folder -ItemType "directory" -Force
}

foreach ($db in $dbs) {

  #  SA password is taken from env var called `SA_PWD`
  $pwd = $env:SA_PWD
  $fileName = "$folder\$db.bacpac"

  # do not overwrite existing files
  if (Test-Path -Path $fileName) {
    Write-Host "`n$fileName exists.`n" -ForegroundColor Yellow
    continue
  }

  sqlpackage.exe /Action:Export /ssn:127.0.0.1 /su:sa /sp:$pwd /sdn:$db /tf:$fileName #/d:True
  # You may want to enable `/d:True` flag if the utility fails with no good explanation to why
}
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There is a chance you will get some errors during the export. They will have to be addressed before the export can be completed. Sometimes it means going back to the very beginning and re-running the entire process again.

Successfully exported files can be imported into Azure SQL Pool with this PowerShell script.

Required input vars:

  • $dbs - an array with DB names, e.g. $dbs = @("c_8hdke93", "c_a83hdk2", "c_hdj3ud5")
  • Environmental var SA_PWD - enter your sa password for Azure SQL server / pool.
  • $AzUserName - Azure SQL server admin user name, e.g. $AzUserName = "sa"
  • $AzResourceGroup, $AzServerName, $AzPoolName - Azure SQL server params.

Output: list of .bacpac files names imported into Azure SQL.

. (Join-Path $PSScriptRoot vars.ps1)

foreach ($db in $dbs) {
  #  SA password is taken from env var called `SA_PWD`
  $pwd = $env:SA_PWD
  $filename = "$db.bacpac"

  Write-Host "`n`nProcessing $fileName`n" -ForegroundColor Yellow

  # ignore if the file is not there
  if (!(Test-Path -Path $fileName)) {
    Write-Host "`n$fileName doesn't exist.`n" -ForegroundColor Red
    continue
  }

  # this line requires running `az login` and `az account set --subscription ...` first
  Write-Host "Deleting AZ SQL DB ..." -ForegroundColor Yellow
  az sql db delete --name $db --resource-group "$AzResourceGroup" --server $AzServerName --yes
  if ($lastexitcode -ne 0) { continue }

  sqlpackage.exe /a:import /tcs:"Data Source=tcp:$AzServerName.database.windows.net,1433;Initial Catalog=$db;User Id=$AzUserName;Password=$pwd" /sf:$filename /p:DatabaseEdition=Standard /p:DatabaseServiceObjective=S4 #/d:True
  # You may want to enable `/d:True` flag if the utility fails with no good explanation to why
  if ($lastexitcode -ne 0) { continue }

  # add the DB to elastic pool
  Write-Host "Moving to pool ..." -ForegroundColor Yellow
  az sql db create --name $db --resource-group "$AzResourceGroup" --elastic-pool "$AzPoolName"  --server $AzServerName
  if ($lastexitcode -ne 0) { continue }

  # rename the .bacpac file so that doesn't get imported again
  Move-Item -Path $filename -Destination "_$filename"
}
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Congratulations - you are done

All databases should have been imported into your Azure SQL pool by the above script.


This post is based on my recent experience migrating a real estate management system with hundreds of MS SQL databases from on-prem to Azure SQL. Read my other articles for more learnings from that project.

I realise that this article makes little sense outside the narrow context of migrating a large number of MS SQL DBs to Azure and is hard to comprehend. It took me quite some time to figure out the right merge process, so I decided that it's better to share what I learned even in its current form. It may still save someone a lot of time and effort.

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