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.