Moving data from SQL Server to MongoDB/CouchDB/Couchbase

I must have re-written the first sentence for this blog 20 times. The reason is that I realize the audience for this post must be incredibly small. You have to work somewhere that is using SQL Server. You also have to work somewhere that is using MongoDB or a Couch product (CouchDB, Couchbase).

Even further you have to want to move data from SQL Server to a document database that stores its data as JSON. But who knows, maybe someone will find this approach useful. =)

The goal is to take data from SQL Server (relational) to MongoDB (document). I’m assuming since you are running SQL Server that you have some .NET languages around the office.

To start, make a new Visual Studio solution and create a Visual C# SQL CLR Database Project. You can find this under the > Database grouping of project types.

The basic idea is that you want to write code, deploy it to SQL Server and then run the code as a stored procedure that produces JSON.

Example of code:

using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Data;
using Microsoft.SqlServer.Server;
using POC;
using POC.PageElements;

public partial class StoredProcedures
    public static void StoredProcedure1()
        Builder builder = new Builder();
        var articles = builder.Build<Article>("exec usp_get_articles");

        foreach (var article in articles)
            article.Contributors = builder.Build<Contributor>("exec usp_get_article_contributors " + article.ArticleId);
            foreach (var contributor in article.Contributors)
                contributor.SocialLinks = builder.Build<SocialLink>("select * from contributor_social_link where contributor_id = " + contributor.Id);

            article.Categories = builder.Build<Category>("exec usp_get_article_categories " + article.ArticleId);

            article.Pages = builder.Build<Page>("exec usp_get_article_pages " + article.ArticleId);
            foreach (var page in article.Pages)
                var paragraphs = builder.Build<Paragraph>("exec usp_get_paragraphs " + page.Id);
                foreach (var paragraph in paragraphs)
                    var images = builder.Build<Image>("exec usp_get_paragraph_image " + paragraph.Id);
                    paragraph.Image = (images.Count > 0) ? images.ToArray()[0] : null;

                var tables = builder.Build<Table>("exec usp_get_tables " + page.Id);
                foreach (var table in tables)

                var imageGroups = builder.Build<ImageGroup>("exec usp_get_image_groups " + page.Id);
                foreach (var imageGroup in imageGroups)
                    var images = builder.Build<Image>("exec usp_get_image_group_images " + imageGroup.Id);
                    imageGroup.Images = (images.Count > 0) ? images : new List<Image>();

                var inlineImages = builder.Build<Image>("exec usp_get_inline_images " + page.Id);
                foreach (var inlineImage in inlineImages)

                var videos = builder.Build<Video>("exec usp_get_videos " + page.Id);
                foreach (var video in videos)

                var blockQuotes = builder.Build<BlockQuote>("exec usp_get_block_quotes " + page.Id);
                foreach (var blockQuote in blockQuotes)

        SqlPipe sp;
        sp = SqlContext.Pipe;

        var dataRecord = new SqlDataRecord(
            new SqlMetaData("id", SqlDbType.Int),
            new SqlMetaData("json", SqlDbType.Text));

        foreach (var article in articles)
            dataRecord.SetInt32(0, article.Id);
            dataRecord.SetString(1, article.ToString());


Some of the code calls functions that I haven’t included, but you can use your imagination to understand what they do. They simply run queries that populate a list of objects. We keep constructing a very rich Article object by making one database call after another.

Once we’re done, we have a list of articles that have been populated from the database. Remember the code above is actually deployed as executable code in SQL Server. Inside of Management Studio you would navigate to your database and then Programmability->Assemblies. If deployment goes well, you’ll see your code there.

The end of the code blob above shows that we are calling article.ToString(); The contents of this call:

        public override string ToString()
            return JsonConvert.SerializeObject(this);

As you can see we’re simply serializing the article to JSON using the Newtonsoft JSON library for C#.

I will say that the deployment of code to SQL Server (especially third party libraries) is not easy. It’s possible, but it will take some Googling and investigation.

The benefits of being able to produce JSON from SQL Server is massive however. You can quickly change the objects in C# that get serialized to JSON, which helps development velocity. My use case has each article running roughly 13 queries, which means that the total number of queries for 1,000 articles would be 13,000!

However in my testing I was able to produce around 100,000 articles in less than 10 minutes. The secret sauce is the fact that the code is running on the database machine and so we don’t have to pay the price of network latency.

Hopefully this approach is helpful in sending non-trivially formed data from SQL Server to MongoDB!

Moving data from SQL Server to MongoDB/CouchDB/Couchbase

9 thoughts on “Moving data from SQL Server to MongoDB/CouchDB/Couchbase

    1. ryan1234 says:

      Hey Ali,

      To move data from Couchbase to SQL Server, I would write a custom client to do the move. I’m not aware of any tools that exist to do this for you. Morever, you’d want to most likely deserialize the JSON documents from Couchbase, “hydrate” an object and then deconstruct that object into something more relational.

      Hope that makes sense.

  1. hi ryan

    noop – you are not alone. I need the SQL Server to report the BI, but also need the couchDB to archive tons of support documents associated with the entries. Do you have any clue to ‘integrate’ such that the sql server user to search these documents ?

    thank you

    1. ryan1234 says:

      Hey there,

      If you need SQL Server to be able to search the documents that are in CouchDB, then I would create a service to sync Couch to SQL Server. A very simple, naive solution could be to write a Windows server (or cron job, depending on your language choice) to periodically copy data from CouchDB to SQL Server. You can easily make a stored procedure that accepts strings – which are JSON documents of course.

      A more advanced and tighter integration would be to monitor the changes log ( and try to integrate with that. Difficult if you ask me.

      Another solution is to duplex the messages going into CouchDB by sending it to SQL at the same time.

  2. Ben says:

    Hi, Ryan,
    What is the next step where mongodb reads the JSON data? Do you import to mongo or does mongo connect to SQL Server to read?

    Thanks for his post.

    1. ryan1234 says:

      Hey Ben,
      Once you have JSON coming out of a stored procedure, the next step is really up to you. You can do one of two things: pull or push. To pull the data, you can setup a windows service/cron job/Mule flow/etc. to run the stored procedure on a schedule. To push you could actually take the code one step further and do writes to Mongo directly from the embedded CLR code. Probably unwise, but it’s an option.

      Hope that helps.

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