For those considering an Azure migration, it can seem like a daunting task. As with any type of move to the cloud, there are certainly some things to consider and keep in mind throughout the transition. However, with an expert in the Microsoft offering to aid in the planning and execution, it can be a simple and seamless process.
To cover the basics, an Azure migration refers to moving applications or data to Microsoft’s public cloud. It used to be known as Windows Azure, but the company rebranded and changed the name several years ago. There are three definitions to be aware of.
Public Cloud: A public cloud is a virtual environment that anyone can add to, but is managed by a third party. In this case, Microsoft owns and maintains all the infrastructure, with countless people tapping into their resources.
IaaS: Microsoft offers Azure as both IaaS and PaaS. The IaaS (infrastructure as a service) offering gives users access only to the raw resources, including storage space.
PaaS: As a PaaS (platform as a service), Microsoft not only offers up the raw resources, but also gives users the tools and building blocks they need to build and run apps.
When considering Microsoft’s cloud for a transition, there are lots of benefits.
Scalability: Companies can use as much or as little of the resources as they need at any given time.
Management: The company’s IT team may not need to manage any infrastructure or hardware at all. It’s possible to rely entirely on Microsoft or to use a mixture of different clouds or of Microsoft’s cloud and local infrastructure.
Cost: It’s often much cheaper to use a cloud service because a company is only paying for what it needs and doesn’t have the overhead of dealing with a full data center.
Security: Being a Microsoft product, it’s one of the most secure and trusted clouds available. However, some companies dealing with sensitive data may also want to look into encrypting data as it’s transferred.
Agility: The ability to flex services to a company’s needs and reduce demands on an in-house IT team means that the team is better poised to support the goals of the company overall.
#1 Perform Assessments
There are many things to consider before deciding if a company’s apps and data are ready for any kind of cloud. This is generally referred to as “cloud readiness.” In order for the transition to be seamless, dependencies between applications need to be identified, it has to be ascertained that the programs are compatible with the new environment, and those handling the transfer need to ensure that the data can be extracted and moved without anything getting lost or corrupted, among other things. While most of these are not deal-breakers, they will take some degree of finesse to sort out long before anything gets touched.
#2 Verify Company Needs
The company’s needs will also come into play. If the move involves dealing with legacy software that’s old and problematic, that may be something to address first. On the other hand, certain apps may be tied to important events, and their downtime would therefore have to be set around the times the apps are in less demand. During this stage, company execs, the IT team, and the support services handling the Azure migration need to come together to determine the urgencies and priorities.
#3 Create a Roadmap
Large-scale transfers like these generally take place over a period of weeks, months, or years. Apps and data are moved one at a time, to allow ample time for testing and smooth rollouts.
#4 Migrate and Test
As individual apps are moved, they’re given a period of time for testing, to ensure any issues are caught before moving onto the next phase.
Monitoring software should be used to oversee the health of all the apps, including those still in their original “homes,” as well as those that have already undergone the Azure migration. At the same time, it’s also important to measure the success of the change, and the organization will have to determine what it considers a “success” in advance. In many cases, cost is a major factor. However, less downtime may be a measurement, as can user satisfaction, failures, or other metrics.
Most companies are moving to a cloud of some type because there are so many benefits. However, Microsoft’s option may not be compatible with some apps, programs, and data. It’s always best to speak with someone who handles Azure migrations on a regular basis to see if there could be a compatibility issue. Ideally, it’s best to consult with a third party that understands multiple cloud options, such as Microsoft competitors like Amazon and Google, to ensure that the right cloud environment is chosen for the organization’s needs.