SQL Azure vs. SQL Old School

Sure, we all want to be agile and ride that cutting edge of technology. If you're not gaining new capability, you lose both ground and momentum.* But at the same time, you don't throw away the old tools from your workbench just because the newer, shinier thing has arrived. That Ryobi 18V Lithium-ion power set is awesome, but sometimes, a 1972 Craftsman screwdriver is just the right tool for the job.**

This week's challenge: I had four databases hosted in SQL Azure. They weren't costing me a lot, but I haven't used two of them in weeks, and I have no plans to use those two for at least a few more months. I decided to take the two unused dbs offline and store them until I was ready to work with them again.

Should be simple enough to make a backup copy, store it on a local hard drive, and put it up again later, right? Not necessarily. My conversation with the Microsoft Azure Portal went something like this:

Me: I'd like to take these databases offline and store on my local hard drive.

Azure: Why  not store them in an Azure Storage Account?

Me: I don't want to pay a monthly fee for storage...

Azure: But it's only a few dollars each month!

Me: A few dollars could be a matinee film or 10% of a Starbuck's coffee...

Azure: Think how much easier it'll be to put those databases back online!

Me: I'm confident I can handle it. Can you show me where to export them?

Azure: We have a problem, Dave.

Me: Um, my name's not Dave...

Back to old school methodology: SQL Management Console. No Powershell, no custom application, no runbooks. Just SQL Management Console. Check out the attached picture; you can click on it to see the full menu expansion, if you'd like. Just a few quick clicks, and my databases are stored in bacpac files on my local storage. 

It is important to note that this isn't a backup strategy, nor is it a good option for disaster recovery. It's better than NO backup, but that's about it -- this method doesn't include any kind of transaction history; it's strictly data and schema. 

But that's the point -- all I need is to save a static set of data, preserve the schema, and save myself enough money each month to enjoy this summer's blockbusters. If the parameters were different, I'd choose a different solution. Sometimes, though, the screwdriver your dad bought at a secondhand shop five years before you were born is exactly the right tool for the job.

* The smartest man at Microsoft once told me, "If you're not improving, you're falling behind. There are no plateaus." I tend to agree. After all, he was a very smart man.

** And Springsteen will always be better than the 90% crap that passes for new "music" today.