Migrating SQL Server to the Cloud – SQL Server Migration Cost

by | Nov 6, 2015 | Blog

This is the FINAL in a series of blog posts about SQL Server and the cloud!

If you’ve been following this series closely then you should have just about all the details you need to make a decision about hosting SQL Server in the cloud. The one thing we haven’t covered yet is probably the most important: Cost.

Btw, if you haven’t yet read any of this blog series, shame on you, but all is forgiven if you go and read them here: one, two, three, four, five & six!

Before we start it’s important to say that cloud pricing is ALWAYS changing so the figures quoted in this post will probably be out of date just seconds after I hit the publish button. But the prices are always getting cheaper so the details listed here will be your worst case scenario.

Also cloud vendors charge by the hour or minute, but for the purposes of this article we will assume that the servers are up and running for an entire month with no downtime.

And finally there are a myriad of virtual machine configurations available to suit all requirements and each vendor offers something different, meaning that’s it’s almost impossible to compare like-for-like server configurations. However for the purposes of this post to give you an overall idea of cost, we will look at the cost of one month for 3 different types of SQL Server configurations; small, medium and large.


As you can see, AWS is extremely competitive at the smaller end of the market, but becomes less competitive for the larger VMs. But all of the vendors offer discounts if you sign up for contracts, for example AWS offers big discounts of between 20-56% if you purchase “reserved instances” for terms of 1 or 3 years.

There can be other costs associated with cloud hosting, it can sometimes feel like signing up for health insurance, as you really need to check the small print! Other costs to be aware of are data transfer. Transfer into the cloud is free, but data transfer out is charged at $0.01/GB (AWS & Google) or $0.09/GB after the first 5GB (Azure), so if you have a database where people are sucking data out of it by the GB then there will be an additional cost.

Both AWS and Azure offer VMs with SQL Server pre-installed and as such offer prices with SQL Server licenses bundled in. The Microsoft pricing is more competitive than AWS, however from my experience it looks to be cheaper to buy your own SQL Server license and port it onto the cloud instance using the BYOL feature.

So there you have it! It’s worth mentioning again that there are many, many more VM options available as the details above are really only the very, very tip of the iceberg.

Hopefully this series of posts has piqued your interest in the possibilities of moving your SQL Server instances into the cloud.

To streamline your migration to AWS, just email me at marcw@databasable.com.