It is difficult to overestimate the role of databases in modern IT infrastructure. Databases have become not only a data storage but also the hub implementing data processing logic using various database objects like stored procedures, functions, triggers, and views. According to the trend of replacing proprietor software by open-source equivalents, the migration from SQL Server or Azure SQL to PostgreSQL becomes increasingly common. During this migration it is crucial to convert SQL code of stored procedures, functions, triggers, and views accurately to ensure a seamless and secure transition. However, the differences in syntax between these database management systems (DBMS) pose significant challenges and often require a specialized SQL converter to simplify and automate the conversion process.

To achieve a successful conversion of database logic from SQL Server or Azure SQL to PostgreSQL, it is advisable to start by modeling the conversion of basic SQL syntax constructs. However, it is important to note that simply converting individual SQL patterns and their combinations may not be enough for complex source code. Special attention must be given to ensure equivalent functionality of the database logic units between the source and destination systems to prevent any semantic errors and this must be handled by SQL converter software.

One specific syntax difference is that SQL Server allows the declaration of local variables anywhere in the source code, whereas PostgreSQL requires them to be declared at the beginning of stored procedures and functions. Another challenge when converting SQL code from SQL Server or Azure SQL to PostgreSQL is dealing with dynamically determined result sets returned by stored functions or procedures, which is permitted in the source DBMS but not in the target system.

Conversion of triggers is another challenging aspect ofSQL Server to PostgreSQL migration.When converting triggers, advanced SQL converter must follow these generic steps:

  • Identify the trigger’s event and choose the appropriate PostgreSQL trigger type (BEFORE, AFTER, or INSTEAD OF).
  • Adjust the trigger’s name and definition, keeping in mind PostgreSQL’s syntax requirements.
  • Move SQL code of trigger’s body into a separate function, with the CREATE TRIGGER command referencing it.
  • Modify any references to MS SQL-specific objects or functions to their PostgreSQL equivalents.
  • Adjust any SQL statements within the trigger code to match PostgreSQL syntax, including table and column references, data manipulation statements, and conditionals.
  • Replace MS SQL variables with references to the NEW and OLD records in PostgreSQL.
  • Modify any variable assignments or references within the trigger code to use the appropriate record variables.

To simplify the conversion of stored procedures, functions, triggers, and views from MS SQL or Azure SQL to PostgreSQL, it is recommended to utilize a dedicated SQL converter tool. This tool automates the translation of syntax for different elements of the database logic from the source DBMS to the target system, saving valuable time and resources that would otherwise be spent on manual conversion.

The SQL converter provides a range of features, including the conversion of stored procedures, functions, triggers, and views. It supports a large portion of SQL syntax constructions, intelligently maps SQL Server types to their PostgreSQL equivalents, and can convert service functions into their PostgreSQL counterparts. Additionally, the tool can process stored procedures, functions, triggers, and views from T-SQL scripts, even when a direct connection to the MS SQL database is not available.

It’s important to note that while SQL converters offer advanced functionality, there may be complex patterns in the source SQL code that don’t have a direct equivalent in the target SQL syntax. Examples of such patterns include pivot tables, recursive queries, and full-text search, which may require manual post-processing during the migration. To effectively handle these semantic differences between SQL Server and PostgreSQL syntax, individuals responsible for the migration should possess comprehensive programming skills in both database management systems. However, for the majority of cases, the SQL converter significantly reduces the time and effort required to convert stored procedures, functions, triggers, and views between the two DBMS.