Azure Migration Planning Checklist
Microsoft Azure holds a lot of potential benefits for an independent software vendor (ISV) scalability, reduced operating cost, faster workflows. But how do you know if your ISV is ready to migrate to the crowd? To answer that question, we’ve developed an Azure migration checklist based on a proven cloud adoption framework.
With an Azure migration plan and checklist in tow, your ISV will be more readily able to identify it’s readiness for a digital transformation. This, in turn, will expedite the process, allowing your business to take full advantage of the cloud, faster.
And that’s important Cisco projects that in , 94% of all workloads and computer instances will be processed by the cloud. Procrastinating on your digital transformation could therefore mean being at a technological disadvantage relative to the competition.
That in mind, let’s discuss a proven plan for a migration to Azure and it’s accompanying checklist.
Assess How Your Business Can Benefit From the Cloud Step 1
to Your Cloud Migration Plan
The first thing that you’ll want to do when engaging in cloud migration planning is to meet with the cloud managed service provider (MSP) and allow them to assess your Azure cloud goals.
That way you can align expectations and projected business outcomes before beginning the move to azure.
This ensures that your ISV’s migration to the cloud is free from surprises and you can plan accordingly.
This is also a great opportunity for your business to prepare itself with some change management planning.
Plan Your Azure Migration Process
With the initial assessment complete, you can enter the planning phase.
The cloud migration planning steps involve a strategic approach to determining priorities for your business and how to achieve them in as little as time as possible and with as little friction as possible.
This is also where the MSP will take stock of your digital estate. They’ll look at:
- The workloads at your ISV
- The components and functions of your applications
- Your core infrastructure
- Your virtual machines (VMs)
- Your databases and storage
- The type of data you have
- And more
This is also where the MSP will begin planning how to lift and shift your processes to the cloud, one of the key steps to cloud migration.
Depending on your needs, this can be a fast move where your VMs and/or servers onto the cloud without making any further adjustments.
You may also require refactoring, where slight changes are made during the move of your applications to Azure so that it is more able to fit, say, a software as a service offering.
Microsoft offers SQL databases as a service or web apps as a service. So if you’re interested in offloading some of the maintenance and headache that goes into maintaining virtual machines with patching and security, the MSP can refactor some of the code or a database or data structure into a managed service.
If you require rearchitecting, reubuilding, or outright replacing, then your azure cloud migration guide will by necessity be longer and more complex.
This would involve working with the development team to change the way the application handles various functions or features. The MSP might even determine that replacing it with a SaaS option or third party is the best approach.
Move the Final Steps
in Your Migration to the Cloud
Now comes the fun part the actual move.
Adopting Microsoft’s framework, you’ll use the information in the planning and assessment phases to determine the size and scope of your move.
The categories (already mentioned above) are typically:
These will inform timelines as well.
Generally speaking, the first step is to move everything from a data center onto the cloud. And later on, if needed, the MSP will handle refactoring, rebuilding, and/or replacing.
Once your ISV has shifted its data onto the cloud, you can begin to look at optimization and automation opportunities.
For some clients who want to supercharge their move and put everything on the cloud all at once, it’s often best to prioritize which processes your business wants to focus on. This is where the planning and assessment phases really pay dividends.
This reduces the chance of error as well as makes cloud adoption across your organization that much simpler.
This also allows you to see what roadblocks were encountered on initial moves, and then iterate to avoid them as more workloads are shifted to the cloud.
Proof of Concept
In service of avoiding major roadblocks, it’s often best to do a proof-of-concept build on the cloud. This will help demonstrate that your applications will continue to function as needed when moved to the cloud, preempting major, costly downtime.
With the first moves or proof-of-concept move complete, you’re now free to engage in a more concentrated effort.
Stay the Course
And ‘concentration’ is key here; many ISVs find themselves excited by Azure’s potential or get distracted by other parts of their business that by the time they return, they realize that the cloud’s ROI isn’t what they were anticipating, or in some cases, that their costs have ballooned.
Taking a deliberate, focused approach to your digital transformation will ensure that you can maximize your cloud ROI and take advantage of all the relevant services that can accelerate your workflow productivity.
A strong MSP will also set up some guardrails to ensure that the above issues are highly unlikely.
Have an Established Landing Zone
You’ll also be greeted by a landing zone that has a few core infrastructure pieces that are pre-built before the move. This will include cost management tools and budget limits/alerts, so you can keep your cloud costs under control.
Governance Is Key
You’ll also establish governance policies to ensure baseline security and permissions. This determines who has access to which documents and who can alter them. Avoiding accidental deletions can save your business a lot of headaches, time, and money, making this step critical.
Your cloud isn’t a silo; it needs to be networked with the rest of the world. An MSP will do networking setup so it only allows in traffic that it’s anticipating. This also ensures that all the different resources, assets, and workloads are communicating with one another. The landing zone plays a huge part in ensuring that costs don’t explode in this part of the move.
This is where you take the processes that worked best and iterate, and discard the ones that were plagued with roadblocks.
This is also an important step should your ISV need your cloud environment serviced in the future.
Many businesses rush into the cloud and find themselves in over their heads. But a capable MSP can come in and rapidly find ways to optimize and dramatically reduce costs while improving workflows.
For instance, some clients copied their exact same specs and sizes to the cloud, even though they don’t need all that cloud computing power.
An MSP can come in and identify that, for instance, one VM has 16 cores, but your business is only using two or four. This reoptimization and resizing can yield huge gains for cloud ROI.
Throughout the move, your MSP will be looking to create automations in your cloud to make it more agile and accelerate your application migration to cloud steps in the future.
Automations can be in the form of:
- Network identification
- Access controls
- Cost management guardrails
- And more
A migration can take anywhere from a couple of days to weeks in more complex environments.
This can also be impacted depending on your business’s availability, as the entire process requires focused collaboration.
A Trusted Azure Migration Checklist From a Trusted MSP
Azure migrate and the platform in general offers a lot of tools that help with a cloud migration.
But if you want to get the most out of your cloud environment while also maximizing ROI, Executech is a trusted MSP with decades of experience and proven track record of success with cloud migrations.
We’ll leverage all Azure has to offer to provide your ISV with a finely tuned cloud environment. Resilient, intuitive, secure, fast, and cost-effective, we’ll help your ISV unlock the full potential of the cloud.
Executech will comb through code and look for incompatibilities, look through database schema and ensure that were won’t be any compatibility issues in the cloud. And then with a few clicks, were able to start the migration, with a keen focus on negating downtime as much as possible.
Get expert support and management with your ISV’s digital transformation. Get in touch today for a free quote.
Azure Migration: The Keys to a Successful Enterprise Migration to Azure
Enterprises are by definition complex, multi-operational businesses that serve customers on a large scale. The cloud, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings, has increasingly become the most effective way for enterprises to operate their most critical business applications. For enterprises that are finally ready to make the move to the cloud, creating an enterprise cloud migration plan is a process that can be daunting. In the initial stages, the personnel that will make up the enterprise migration team should be selected, and a full view of the current environment should be assessed.
When it comes to Azure migrations, tools such as the Migration Assessment Tool and ASR Deployment Planner will give users insight into which parts of their workload will benefit from a move to the cloud, allowing them to consider how the migration will impact overall performance and affect costs.
There are six main points to consider when planning your enterprise’s Azure migration:
1. The migration model that the application will use
2. Current state assessment and future state planning
3. How to accomplish the move
4. Storage configuration options
5. Security and availability solutions
6. Migrating and maintaining your Azure deployment
In this post we’ll take a deep dive into each of these points, and show you how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can also help your enterprise’s Azure migration.
1. Application Migration Models
Analysis has shown that optimal migration to the cloud can be nested under two model types: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Each of these two models has two variations:
Redeploys your current setup on an IaaS without making changes. Also known as Lift and Shift.
Fits existing coding into the new cloud environment by modifying or extending the code currently in place
The PaaS options are as follows:
Existing code is run on top of the cloud
Discards the existing code in favor of re-architecting on top of the cloud
The model a company chooses to use should reflect its business type and goals.
The PaaS model, for instance, will benefit companies that work primarily online and with software development. This is because Azure PaaS offers services such as Azure App Services, which provide serverless architecture capabilities that allow R&D teams to focus on innovating for the company, rather than maintaining infrastructure.
The fastest method to accomplish migration is the IaaS rehosting, aka “Lift and Shift.” Rehosting uses the infrastructure components of Azure. Other options include a mixed IaaS-PaaS configuration, or completely replacing the service a company offers with a new one based in the cloud. Deciding between an Azure PaaS vs. IaaS services will largely be dependent on your existing application’s requirements.
Another Azure migration path is for an enterprise that is currently deploying in another cloud, such as AWS, to redeploy in Azure. There are a number of reasons why an enterprise would want to move from one cloud provider to another, including more attractive pricing, unique Azure features, better compatibility with existing applications, or to unify data silos. However, carrying out such a move can be difficult, as the platforms are not built to interact. Their native migration tools simply aren’t able to move data between one cloud, such as AWS or Google Cloud, to Azure. That’s where NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can come in, making it possible for data to transition seamlessly between clouds.
2. Assessment and Planning the Azure Migration
The initial phase of any cloud migration is a current-state assessment of the on-premises environment to identify the connectivity of the different tiers of the application, their dependencies on on-premises resources if any, and legacy configurations that need to be updated before migration. This process helps in deciding the scope of the migration of the application, i.e. whether it will be possible to rehost and revise to IaaS or if it will be necessary to refactor and rebuild to use PaaS. The information gathered in the assessment phase goes directly into the planning phase, where deeper evaluations of the application will be done to fine-tune the migration approach.
In large-scale environments, manually assessing environments for cloud migration is not feasible. For this purpose, Microsoft offers multiple tools to help customers in this process. The basic tool that can be used is a MAP assessment toolkit that can generate an Azure VM readiness report by scanning the on-premises environment. It can provide precise information regarding the compatibility of the existing servers with the Azure platform. However, note that it does not take the dependency aspects on other services into account.
The Azure Migrate service helps to assess VMware or Hyper-V (preview) environments and report on their feasibility for migration. This tool also helps you to group machines related to the same application to visualize and assess the dependencies, something which helps in the planning process. The assessment report can be downloaded in an Excel format. After running an Azure Migrate assessment, you can leverage services like Azure Site Recovery or Azure Database Migration service for moving your application and data to Azure. The Azure Website Migration Assistant tool can help in automated assessment and migration of websites running on Microsoft Internet Information Services (Microsoft IIS).
3. Accomplishing the Migration to Azure
The objective of the move should result in a lower TCO and improved performance at lower costs. By setting your goals early on, you will be able to take advantage of Azure VM Sizing to make sure these parameters are met. Map toolkit and Azure Migrate also provide recommendations on the target Azure VM size based on their assessment results.
Azure runs on the proprietary Hyper-V platform from Microsoft, which makes lift-and-shift rehosting procedures onto the Azure blob storage from an on-premises Hyper-V environment as simple as transferring a VHD from the old environment to the new one.
Azure Site Recovery (ASR) enables customers to continuously replicate virtual or physical servers to Azure, and then migrate using a simple failover process. It also offers a test failover approach, which can be used to test functionality of applications before the actual Azure deployment. The popularity of running Linux on Azure virtual machines has also led Suse and Red Hat to offer their own services in Azure through BYOL or monthly fees.
4. Using the Appropriate Azure Storage Types
Regardless of whether a migration is based on an IaaS or PaaS model, storage costs will increase over time. To keep rising costs under control, it is crucial to get to know the different Azure storage types and to select the storage account type that appropriately meets the application’s performance, read/write operations, and replication requirements.
The right storage service will be determined by the data types in use: both IOPS and throughput will be factors to consider. Make certain you understand the IOPS nuances for different types of storage and test this with tools like IOMeter and SQLIO to simulate workloads.
Pro tips: For some virtual machine tiers, you can use storage spaces to combine the IOPS from several disks. Also, you get temporary SSD storage when creating a VM, which can be utilized for things such as Pagefile or SQL TempDB.
One way to tackle storage in Azure is to use the concept of managed disks, which overcomes a lot of limitations inherent in storage accounts
Moving cold storage data to the Azure Cool Blob storage format is another way to keep costs down. It is both cost effective and simpler to accomplish than alternatives. Since Cool Blob is meant for infrequent access, it is ideal to use for data that cannot be deleted but is accessed sporadically, such as backup data for example. For long-term retention of data archives for compliance or regulatory purposes, the Azure Archive storage tier can be used, which offers a low-cost, high-value cloud cold storage option.
With Azure’s StorSimple solution, for instance, you get to build on your prior expertise of on-premises storage solutions, but with a unified management console for both on-premises and cloud storage workloads. Another option to maintain compatibility with enterprise-grade products is to use NetApp® Cloud Volumes ONTAP, which not only provides the familiar Cloud Volumes ONTAP features of NetApp FAS products, but also automates data movement in the cloud and provides a central console for operational insights and resource cost monitoring.
Certain virtual machine tiers allow users to combine IOPS from more than one disk by taking advantage of storage space. When creating a virtual machine, users are granted temporary SSD storage that can be used for Pagefile or SQL TempDB.
Becoming familiar with the use of managed disks will also help deal with storage issues with Azure.
5. Azure Security and Availability Solutions
Public cloud usage comes with a major concern: security. With some loss of data sovereignty and infrastructure control, it is important to make sure to have a strategy for encrypting all at-rest data in place. For Windows, Bitlocker Drive Encryption and Azure Key Vault can be an excellent starting point while devising this strategy.
Linux users can supplement Azure Key Vault with DM-Crypt. Another important technology that helps encrypt data at rest is Azure Storage Service Encryption (SSE), which encrypts the data as it is stored in Resource Manager Storage Accounts.
The Azure marketplace also hosts many third-party vendors who offer their own encryption services. A service such as BYOL can offer a low-cost solution to protecting expensive appliances. Networking resources will not get lost in an infrastructural move to the cloud. Built-in technologies such as network security groups and Azure WAF can control the flow of traffic with the aid of technologies like route tables and User Defined Routes. These technologies can also be used to setup advanced use cases such as forced tunneling.
Azure Virtual network gateway helps setup traditional VPN connections for use cases such as site-to-site VPN and Vnet-to-Vnet VPNs. Apart from this, always ensure that you have a holistic view of threat vectors through the Azure Security Center for Azure or even hybrid deployment scenarios.
It should go without saying that any security measures that are enacted should also keep RTO and RPO objectives in sight. Depending on your environment, maintaining Azure high availability will incorporate tools such as availability sets, and availability zones, ASR and Azure backup, and guest clustering. Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Azure also has a dual-node confugutation that can make it easy, and secure, to maintain your business continuity.
All of these features have capabilities that will meet specific backup and data recovery goals. Availability sets use fault domains and update domains to guarantee uptime while performing planned or unplanned maintenance. Availability zones can be used to protect your applications from data center failures. VMs in availability zones are deployed in multiple data centers with independent power, cooling, and networking to protect against data center level availability issues.
Guest clustering uses Storage Spaces Direct for high-availability and load-balancing features of VM workloads. For more on security solutions and Azure resilience, refer to this guide.
6. Migration to Azure and Beyond
After spending considerable time on assessment, planning, and testing out your new environment, you are finally ready to move your workload to Azure. Now you need to think about migrating huge amounts of data to the Azure data centers.
Tools such as Azure Storage Explorer and AzCopy can help move data to and from the blob-based Azure storage. Objects such as files and VHD can be easily migrated using these native tools. But what if your data is too big to migrate through these conventional tools?
Consider using Azure Import/Export service, which can physically ship hard drives with the on-premises data directly to Azure data centers.
When it comes to hybrid deployments, use of exclusive networks such as ExpressRoute can significantly reduce transfer time of data between environments. Azure Site Recovery, already mentioned, is also a good feature to help you move VM-based and physical server workloads to the cloud. Microsoft also provides out-of-the-box support of hybrid cloud for enterprises. With products such as Windows Azure Stack, for example, Microsoft has enabled enterprises to deploy a true hybrid cloud. Windows Azure Stack brings Azure Resource Manager, blob storage, and fault domains (among other features) to your on-premises data center, transforming it to a true, scalable private cloud solution.
And when it comes to Azure databases, don’t forget to make use of the SQL Database Migration Tool to move SQL databases from on the premises to the cloud. A tool that can help you in this process is Data Migration Assistant (DMA), which detects compatibility issues and allows you to move data to an Azure SQL database. Similarly, the Azure Website Migration Assistant tool can help in automated assessment and migration of websites running on IIS.
For enterprises that are currently using NetApp storage systems, moving to Azure with SnapMirror® data replication technology is a cost-effective and fast way to carry out the migration. SnapMirror and Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Azure can also continue to help you manage a deployment, especially if your enterprise is deploying a hybrid deployment, keeping data synced in all the repositories automatically and at low cost.
Read More On Azure Migration
Azure Migrate: Key Components and a 4-Step Migration Plan
Azure Migrate is a migration service that helps organizations evaluate the benefits of migrating their on-premises infrastructure, data and applications to the public cloud. Learn about the 7 key components of Azure Migrate, and see how to migrate your workloads using Azure Migrate automation, step by step.
Read more: Azure Migrate: Key Components and a 4-Step Migration Plan
5 Azure Data Migration Tools You Should Be Using
Migrating from an on-prem system or another cloud to Azure is an objective for many organizations, but not every use case should use the same tools to do that. In this post we look at five of Azure data migration tools so that you can find the right one for your migration, whether it’s moving a database, an application, or backup.
Read more in 5 Azure Data Migration Tools You Should Be Using.
Azure Migration Tools: One-Click Migration for VMs and Data
Microsoft Azure provides a number of technologies that can simplify and automate the migration process. Azure migration tools include the Azure Data Migration Assistant that automates data transfers, the Azure Migrate service that automates migration of VMs, and Azure Data Box which helps you move data to an Azure datacenter via a dedicated hardware appliance.
Learn about Azure’s migration tools and how they can help you simplify and automate migration of on-premise workloads, as part of your Azure migration strategy.
Read more in Azure Migration Tools: One-Click Migration for VMs and Data
Azure Managed Service Provider: How to Save Time and Reduce Cloud Overhead
Traditional managed service providers performed basic system tasks, like troubleshooting or monitoring. However, MSPs have evolved to provide many different services, including data security, software delivery, and cloud migration.
Azure MSPs can take over certain IT responsibilities in your Azure cloud. This includes service monitoring, financial monitoring, financial management, governance assessment, optimization, and migration.
Read more in Azure Managed Service Provider: How to Save Time and Reduce Cloud Overhead.
Step Azure Migration Checklist
An Azure migration has as many considerations and moving parts as a migration to any cloud. There are high costs involved and should the proper safeguards not be in place, there are a lot of potential risks too. To help guide new users, Azure has a four-step process to getting prepared for a migration.
This post will introduce you to the Azure migration process, and provide you with a convenient Azure migration checklist that you can use when you are ready to start your own migration to Azure. Besides the Azure migration checklist, you’ll also get some background on why organizations are moving to the cloud, insight into what moving an application to Azure entails, and some step-by-step guidance.
Read more in Step Azure Migration Checklist.
Azure Migration Strategy: Four Steps to the Cloud
This post is a complete introduction to the four models that Azure has classified for Azure migrations: Rehost, Refactor, Rearchitect and Rebuild. Each has its own set of benefits, costs, and risk factors, and choosing the one that is right for your deployment isn’t always easy, but it’s the first step towards building your Azure migration strategy.
Find out the full details on each of these cloud deployment models, and which Azure migration strategy can most benefit from the added help of NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP.
Read more in Azure Migration Strategy: Four Steps to the Cloud
Moving Clouds: Migration from AWS to Azure and Azure to AWS
While an initial AWS or Azure migration can be a delicate process that requires attention to every detail, moving from one cloud provider to another can be even more challenging. This is in part due to the fact that once a cloud provider has your data and applications running on their services, they’d rather you not switch to their competitors. What can companies looking to carry out a migration from AWS to Azure or vice versa do to make things easier?
This blog post will look at the details of migration from AWS to Azure and Azure to AWS, from the motivations behind such moves to how NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP can be of critical help in such inter-cloud transitions.
Read more in Moving Data Between the AWS and Azure Clouds.
Azure vs AWS Pricing: Comparing Apples to Apples
The choice between the two major cloud providers isn’t always so easy. When it comes to comparing Azure vs AWS pricing, is there any real difference to help you make the decision one way or the other? This post takes a granular look at the differences between Azure vs AWS pricing so that you can make the right choice for your public cloud provider.
Besides looking at pricing, we’ll also compare some Azure and AWS services side by side, and look at how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can make the costs of deploying in either cloud significantly lower.
Read more in Azure vs AWS Pricing: Comparing Apples to Apples.
Azure Case Studies with Cloud Volumes ONTAP
If you’re moving to the Azure cloud or if you’re already in Azure and have found that there are still enterprise-grade features your deployment requires, NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help. In this post we take a look at several enterprise Azure case studies with Cloud Volumes ONTAP.
Cloud Volumes ONTAP is NetApp’s cloud and hybrid data management platform that enables cloud-based file sharing, business continuity, NAS and SAN protocols, efficient and automatic disaster recovery, seamless migration, and powerful storage efficiencies not available natively on Azure. These Azure case studies include leading industries in sectors such as high finance, healthcare, media, global online retail, and more.
Read more in Azure Case Studies with Cloud Volumes ONTAP.
Azure Storage Replication with SnapMirror
NetApp SnapMirror® data replication has been a fundamental part of data mobility in the NetApp ecosystem for years. With Cloud Volumes ONTAP, all of those tested SnapMirror benefits can now be put to use for Azure storage replication.
In this post you’ll find out how SnapMirror data replication can simplify deployment across hybrid cloud infrastructures and make Azure migration from existing NetApp storage environments seamless and efficient.
Read more in “Azure Storage Replication with SnapMirror"
How to Upload Files to Azure Blob Storage with AzCopy, PowerShell, and More
An Azure migration from an on-prem storage system or other repository to Azure Blob and keeping that data up to date and in sync between all the data locations can be complex and challenging. Azure offers a number of its own native tools to migrate such data, which is bolstered by a number of third-party options to upload files to Azure Blob storage.
This post looks at the most popular tools to upload files to Azure Blob storage, including AzCopy, Azure Powershell, Azure Data Box, and Azure Import/Export service. We’ll show you how to use AzCopy and Azure PowerShell to migrate to Azure Blob and look at the added value of migrating to Azure with Cloud Volumes ONTAP.
Read more in How to Upload Files to Azure Blob Storage with AzCopy, PowerShell, and More
Azure Migration Program: 4 Key Elements
The Azure Migration Program (AMP) allows customers and partners to work directly with Microsoft when planning and implementing Azure migration projects. Learn about the four key components of the Azure Migration Program, which can help you train staff on cloud migration, automate migration tasks, and get expert help from Azure.
Read more: Azure Migration Program: 4 Key Elements
4 Ways to Migrate SQL to Azure
Microsoft Azure is the world’s second biggest cloud computing provider, offering a wide range of services, including compute, storage, networking, and analytics. Discover all the ways to migrate Microsoft SQL Server and open-source SQL databases, including MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL, to the Azure cloud.
Read more: 4 Ways to Migrate SQL to Azure
Migrate SQL Server to Azure: Options, Tools, and a Quick Tutorial
Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database management system (RDBMS) commonly used for tasks like transaction processing, business intelligence (BI), and analytics. Learn about the main options for migrating SQL server to Azure, including Azure SQL Server, Managed Instance and VM, and see how to migrate step by step.
Read more: Migrate SQL Server to Azure: Options, Tools, and a Quick Tutorial
Migrate Databases to Azure: 3 Quick Tutorials
Azure provides several options for migrating databases from an on-premises data center or other cloud providers. Learn how to migrate relational, NoSQL, and SAP databases to Azure, with simple step by step tutorials.
Read more: Migrate Databases to Azure: 3 Quick Tutorials
Azure Migration Step by Step: Discover, Migrate, Optimize, and Monitor
Azure migration can help organizations keep their assets secure, optimize costs, and achieve resilience. Learn about Microsoft’s recommended step-by-step program for Azure migration of databases, VMware infrastructure, and other workloads.
Read more: Azure Migration Step by Step: Discover, Migrate, Optimize, and Monitor
3 Ways to Create an Azure Migrate Project
Azure Migrate offers a centralized hub to evaluate and migrate servers based on-premises, applications, data, and other infrastructure to Azure. Learn how to create one or more Azure Migrate Projects, either manually, automatically using ARM, or managing projects for multiple clients using Azure Lighthouse.
Read more: 3 Ways to Create an Azure Migrate Project
See Our Additional Guides on Key IaaS Topics
We have authored in-depth guides on several other topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of IaaS.
Learn about cloud migration and what major challenges to expect when implementing a cloud migration strategy in your organization.
See top articles in our cloud migration strategy guide:
Learn about Amazon’s basic framework for migration, and how to plan for common challenges that affect almost every migration project.
See top articles in our AWS migration guide:
Learn what is AWS EBS and how to perform common EBS operations. Including five highly useful EBS features that can help you optimize performance and billing.
See top articles in our guide to AWS EBS:
Learn about AWS EFS, your backup options, how to optimize performance, see a brief comparison of EFS vs EBS vs S3, and discover how Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help.
See top articles in our guide to AWS EFS:
Azure Cost Management
Learn about tools and practices that can help you manage and optimize costs on the Microsoft Azure cloud.
See top articles in our Azure cost management:
AWS Cost Optimization
Learn how AWS cost optimization works, free Amazon tools that can help manage costs, and best practices for reducing your cloud bill.
See top articles in our AWS cost optimization guide:
AWS High Availability
Discover how high available systems are reliable and resilient and see how AWS can help you achieve high availability for cloud workloads, across 3 dimensions.
See top articles in our AWS high availability guide:
Azure High Availability
High availability is one of the major benefits of cloud services. The guarantee that your data will remain accessible is critical to supporting high priority workloads and applications and is the reason many move to the cloud in the first place.
This guide explains what high availability is and how to optimize Azure high availability.
See top articles in our Azure high availability guide:
Linux on Azure
Learn how to use Linux on Azure, including guides for cloud-based enterprise Linux deployments and performance tips.
See top articles in our guide to Linux on Azure:
HPC on Azure
Discover services and techniques for cloud-based HPC, including unique Azure HPC features and use cases.
See top articles in our guide to HPC on Azure:
SAP on Azure
Learn about all SAP solutions offered as a service on Azure, including HANA, S/4HANA, NetWeaver and Hybris, migration considerations and best practices.
See top articles in our guide to SAP on Azure:
VDI on Azure
Learn what options are available for VDI on Azure. Understand how the architecture works and discover best practices for VDI deployments.
See top articles in our guide to VDI on Azure:
AWS Big Data
Learn about the tools AWS provides for building big data infrastructure, including data lakes and big data analytics systems.
See top articles in our guide on AWS Big Data:
Google Cloud Migration
Learn how to migrate your workloads and data to Google Cloud, including in-depth comparisons between GCP and other cloud providers, tools, strategies, costs, and more.
See top articles in our guide on Google Cloud migration:
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How to Prepare for an On-Premises to Azure Migration
Cloud Enablement | Azure
by Justin Zsimovan
There can be no denying the appeal of cloud computing. Enticed by promises of cost efficiency, high performance levels, robust security, and scalability, organizations around the world are making the switch from on-premises to cloud environments in droves. In fact, according to one report, the global cloud computing market is projected to reach $ billion by at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 18%.
Microsoft Azure has played an integral role in cloud computing’s rapid rise. The popular cloud computing platform, which accounted for almost % of Microsoft’s total revenue in , alone, has earned praise for its world-class enterprise-level security, incredible % availability, sophisticated Platform as a Service capabilities, seamless integration with the entire Microsoft product suite, and more. For these and other reasons, Azure is the leading cloud computing platform on the market today, consistently outperforming Amazon AWS and Google Cloud Platform, its two main competitors.
Whether you’re interested in learning how to migrate from on-premises to the cloud in general or to Azure in particular, you’ve come to the right place — here’s how to get started.
Table of Contents
- Get Ready to Migrate: Migration Prep Checklist
- Your 8-Step Azure Migration Plan
- Choosing a Migration Method: Offline vs. Online
- Common Challenges Associated with Cloud Migration
- Need Migration Assistance? Hitachi Solutions Can Help
Get Ready to Migrate: Migration Prep Checklist
Many businesses have a legitimate reason to move to the cloud but lack the business strategy and support structure they need to migrate; these organizations face a more challenging migration process and are less likely to realize the full benefits of Azure. Other businesses have not yet taken the time to understand their goals or reasoning for moving to the cloud. In this case, much time and resources could be wasted by moving resources into the cloud without clarity of vision.
That’s why, before you begin your on-premises to cloud migration, it’s important that you determine whether you’re even ready to move to the cloud in the first place; this typically involves asking a series of evaluative questions to gauge preparedness. At Hitachi Solutions, we use several strategies and tools, including Microsoft’s Strategic Migration Assessment to determine whether our clients are ready to make the shift. This assessment consists of 17 questions across 10 categories:
- Business Strategy
- Has your company identified a compelling business reason for moving to the cloud?
- Is there an executive and stakeholder sign-off for the migration project, including committed funding?
- Partner Support
- Do you have a plan for how a migration partner will support you during and after the project?
- Discovery & Assessment
- Have you performed an application/workload discovery and assessment using a tool?
- Have you identified the set of applications in scope for the migration project?
- Are the application owners identified and aligned to the migration plan?
- Business Case
- Have you created a business case based on your actual on-premises inventory and scope of migration project?
- Migration Plan
- Do you have people assigned to work on the migration, including a project manager, cloud migration team, and application owners?
- Do you have a project timeline with identified migration waves (including pilot wave)?
- Technical Skilling
- Have your teams been trained on the Azure platform for their particular duties?
- Landing Zone
- Have you set up an Azure landing zone designed to accepted migrated workloads?
- Migration Execution
- Has your migration team been trained or had prior experience with the migration process?
- Have you designed the following aspects of securing your Azure workloads: (i) identity & access, (ii) app/data security, (iii) network security, (iv) threat protection, (v) security management?
- Do you have tools in place to monitor cloud spend and recommend cost saving options in Azure?
- Do you have a plan for using Azure Policy and Azure Blueprints to ensure resources are deployed in a consistent and repeatable way?
- Do you have a plan for monitoring the health and performance of your Azure applications, infrastructure, and network?
- Do you have a plan for backup of critical data and ensuring disaster recovery objectives are met?
Going over each question with a migration partner that has many years of experience moving companies into the cloud can help you uncover potential challenges and surface solutions earlier on in the process that can provide value and save your company money for many years to come.
Your 8-Step Azure Migration Plan
The on-premises to Azure migration process can differ depending on which migration partner you choose. Here at Hitachi Solutions, we have refined our own Unified Framework methodology, which has been tried and proven over many years of successful project work. The framework, at a high level, follows the following 8 steps:
During this first stage, we work with the client to assemble a project team, pulling talent from both the client side and from our own internal team. We also use this time to set the client’s expectations for the project. This stage of the on-premises to cloud migration process typically lasts a couple of days and lays the groundwork for the entire migration.
During the Discovery stage, we look for the client’s modernization trigger — that is, the reason why they want to migrate to the cloud. This is an important step because, as we have mentioned, moving to the cloud without a definitive reason is expensive and could result in a flawed migration. From there, we conduct an in-depth inventory of what the client currently has on-premises, rationalize which pieces need to move to the cloud, and determine which services to map each piece to. This last item is key because most migrations require some level of refactoring and/or rearchitecting.
- Design & Planning
Once the Discovery stage is complete, we figure out what the client’s future state is going to look like. In some instances, we’re migrating applications and other components into an existing cloud estate, in which case we’ll need to ensure that the existing estate is usable, secure, and aligned with best practice based on Microsoft’s Cloud Adoption Framework. We’ll then suggest changes to the existing cloud estate, request client approval, and revise as needed; this is usually a highly iterative process. If, however, we’re looking at a greenfield, net-new cloud estate, we’ll need to design and plan a brand new landing zone, which will represent your “virtual datacenter” that we will be moving the workloads, applications, and data in to.
- Agile & Scrum
At this point in the process, we start to plan out our build sprints — essentially, what needs to happen in order for us to start building.
- Build & Migrate
Before we can officially start the migration, we need to build the infrastructure to support it. During this stage, we’ll also synchronize the client’s on-premises apps, workloads, and data sources. Depending on the migration strategy that best fits your requirements, we can use Azure Migrate or Movere to perform a lift and shift of workloads into Azure. It is often preferable to modernize the workloads or application stack as we’re moving; this approach enables an organization to realize enhanced cloud benefits, especially as we move towards more cloud-native solutions. There are several factors which will help you determine which migration approach best suits your business — Hitachi Solutions can help you navigate those considerations and make an informed decision.
During this stage, we perform a series of tests to ensure that everything we moved to the cloud works and performs as expected, or in some cases, even exceeds operational KPIs.
During go-live, we work with clients to operationalize migration workloads running in Azure; this can be a phased approach depending on the environment landscape — Dev, Stage, QA, Prod, and so on. We’ll also talk to the client about cost optimization and offer advice on how to onboard these new Azure workloads into existing monitoring and logging solutions or adopt new cloud-native solutions.
- Training & Knowledge Transfer
During the last phase of our Unified Framework methodology, we review the as-built solution(s) with the client and provide in-depth training to internal operations staff. We also optionally, work with Hitachi Solutions Managed Services team to hand over the day-to-day operations.
Choosing a Migration Method: Offline vs. Online
Regardless of the migration strategy chosen (lift and shift or modernize and refactor), you must also rationalize workload datasets and migrate them into the newly proposed solution. The decision of which data transfer model to use typically comes up in the early stages of the migration planning process and can depend entirely on the workloads being migrated.
Certain workloads need to remain online and usable in an on-premises capacity during workload synchronization, necessitating an online migration. Online migrations are less impactful on users and support teams than their offline counterparts, however, require a more detailed migration and communication plan to ensure success during the go-live. That said, a poor network connection can make online migration inefficient or impractical.
Offline migrations are ideal for large data sets that will take a significant amount of time to synchronize over the internet or private WAN connection; in the case of a metered connection, this may be the only viable migration strategy available. Offline data migration methods are also an excellent option when the data to be moved must follow a more rigorous security protocol.
Common Challenges Associated with Cloud Migration
Though completing your on-premises to cloud migration may seem like the end of the road, there are certain technical challenges to be aware of that could prevent you from realizing the full benefits of Azure. These challenges include:
- Lack of executive sponsorship. A successful cloud adoption requires coordination across several major business units. Work with senior leadership to align the organization towards a common set of goals. Project delays can occur in situations where teams have misaligned expectations on the goals or strategy for cloud adoption.
- A lack of operational knowledge. Though there are certainly many advantages of moving to Azure (operational ease of use among them), several aspects of the cloud require strong operating knowledge in order to be leveraged effectively. Successful cloud adoption is the result of skilled people having the tools and support necessary to drive innovation. Ensure your operational teams have access to cloud training services; there are several available, including some directly from Microsoft. Establish a Cloud Excellence team to help drive innovation and find a platform for all teams to share goals/risks related to cloud adoption.
- A lack of a good governance policy. Cloud governance is a set of operational rules which control how cloud workloads are approved, built, maintained, audited, and supported, to ensure that workloads and related process or workstreams align with overall business and security objectives. It is also important that your governance policy establish how you intend to control costs, improve efficiency, and eliminate security risks. To help ensure good governance, we recommend that you consider things such as Azure Policy to automatically check for and remediate components that do not meet governance standards, as well as to understand and correctly implement role-based access control to ensure the right users are accessing the right resources.
- A lack of a strong security policy. Given the complexity of an on-premise to cloud migration, it can be tempting to indiscriminately grant developers and end users access to different cloud resources and put off restricting permissions until later. The problem with this is that it could lead to access ending up in the wrong person’s hands, jeopardizing the security of your entire cloud environment. Similar to governance, it’s imperative that you implement a strong security policy with clearly defined roles and permissions right at the outset. To help facilitate this, start mapping out which groups and roles require access to which cloud resources well before you begin your migration.
Migration challenges can be avoided by working with an experienced migration partner like Hitachi Solutions.
Need Migration Assistance? Hitachi Solutions Can Help
Hitachi Solutions brings years of cumulative migration experience working across organizations in several industries and verticals. This hard-earned experience provides us with a unique level of insight into the Azure migration process, which enables us to identify the path of least resistance and confidently handle any challenge that might come your way. Hitachi Solutions can work directly with your existing IT teams to help establish a high level of organizational cloud readiness and to help your teams identify migration pitfalls in advance, preventing costs from running over and accelerating your journey to the cloud.
We are also highly flexible and prepared to engage with you at any step of the migration process. For example, if you feel assured of your organization’s ability to independently perform a migration but require assistance with governance, Hitachi Solutions offers a governance workshop, during which we will work with your organization to develop a governance policy that will set you up for success. Conversely, if your organization lacks cloud migration experience, and you would prefer to have someone else oversee the process in its entirety, we can do that for you, too. Hitachi Solutions even has a Managed Services team that can provide operational support to supplement your existing IT team on a day-to-day basis.
Whatever your migration needs, Hitachi Solutions is here to help — contact us today to start your journey to the cloud.
Offer: Cloud Readiness Assessment
2–3 DAYS | $ - $
Infrastructure Modernization Track
Build migration plan with Azure Migrate
Follow this article to build your migration plan to Azure with Azure Migrate.
Define cloud migration goals
Before you start, understanding and evaluating your motivation for moving to the cloud can contribute to a successful business outcome. As explained in the Cloud Adoption Framework, there are a number of triggers and outcomes.
|Business event||Migration outcome|
|Merger, acquisition, or divestiture||Reduction in vendor/technical complexity|
|Reduction in capital expenses||Optimization of internal operations|
|End of support for mission-critical technologies||Increase in business agility|
|Response to regulatory compliance changes||Preparation for new technical capabilities|
|New data sovereignty requirements||Scaling to meet market demands|
|Reduction in disruptions, and IT stability improvements||Scaling to meet geographic demands|
Identifying your motivation helps you to pin down your strategic migration goals. The next step is to identify and plan a migration path that's tailored for your workloads. The Azure Migrate: Discovery and Assessment tool helps you to assess on-premises workloads, and provides guidance and tools to help you migrate.
Understand your digital estate
Start by identifying your on-premises infrastructure, applications, and dependencies. This helps you to identify workloads for migration to Azure, and to gather optimized cost projections. The Discovery and assessment tool helps you to identify the workloads you have in use, dependencies between workloads, and workload optimization.
Workloads in use
Azure Migrate uses a lightweight Azure Migrate appliance to perform agentless discovery of on-premises VMware VMs, Hyper-V VMs, other virtualized servers, and physical servers. Continuous discovery collects server configuration information, and performance metadata, as well as application data. Here's what the appliance collects from on-premises servers:
Server, disk, and NIC metadata.
Installed applications, roles, and features.
Performance data, including CPU and memory utilization, disk IOPS, and throughput.
After collecting data, you can export the application inventory list to find apps, and SQL Server instances running on your servers. You can use the Azure Migrate: Database Assessment tool to understand SQL Server readiness.
Along with data discovered with the Discovery and assessment tool, you can use your Configuration Management Database (CMDB) data to build a view of your server and database estate, and to understand how your servers are distributed across business units, application owners, geographies, etc. This helps decide which workloads to prioritize for migration.
Dependencies between workloads
After server discovery, you can analyze dependencies, to visualize and identify cross-server dependencies, and optimization strategies for moving interdependent servers to Azure. The visualization helps to understand whether certain servers are in use, or if they can be decommissioned, instead of being migrated. Analyzing dependencies helps ensure that nothing is left behind, and to surprise outages during migration. With your application inventory and dependency analysis done, you can create high-confidence groups of servers, and start assessing them.
Optimization and sizing
Azure provides flexibility to resize your cloud capacity over time, and migration provides an opportunity for you to optimize the CPU and memory resources allocated to your servers. Creating an assessment on servers you've identity helps you to understand your workload performance history. This is crucial for right sizing Azure VM SKUs, and disk recommendations in Azure.
Assess migration readiness
You can export the assessment report, and filter on these categories to understand Azure readiness:
- Ready for Azure: Servers can be migrated as-is to Azure, without any changes.
- Conditionally ready for Azure: Servers can be migrated to Azure, but need minor changes, in accordance with the remediation guidance provided in the assessment.
- Not ready for Azure: Servers can't be migrated to Azure as-is. Issues must be fixed in accordance with remediation guidance, before migration.
- Readiness unknown: Azure Migrate can't determine server readiness, because of insufficient metadata.
Using database assessments, you can assess the readiness of your SQL Server data estate for migration to Azure SQL Database, or Azure SQL Managed Instances. The assessment shows migration readiness status percentage for each of your SQL server instances. In addition, for each instance you can see the recommended target in Azure, potential migration blockers, a count of breaking changes, readiness for Azure SQL DB or Azure SQL VM, and a compatibility level. You can dig deeper to understand the impact of migration blockers, and recommendations for fixing them.
After a server is marked as ready for Azure, Discovery and assessment makes sizing recommendations that identify the Azure VM SKU and disk type for your servers. You can get sizing recommendations based on performance history (to optimize resources as you migrate), or based on on-premise server settings, without performance history. In a database assessment, you can see recommendations for the database SKU, pricing tier, and compute level.
Get compute costs
Performance-based sizing option in Azure Migrate assessments helps you to right-size VMs, and should be used as a best practice for optimizing workloads in Azure. In addition to right-sizing, there are a few other options to help save Azure costs:
- Reserved Instances: With reserved instances(RI), you can significantly reduce costs compared to pay-as-you-go pricing.
- Azure Hybrid Benefit: With Azure Hybrid Benefit, you can bring on-premises Windows Server licenses with active Software Assurance, or Linux subscriptions, to Azure, and combine with reserved instances options.
- Enterprise Agreement: Azure Enterprise Agreements (EA) can offer savings for Azure subscriptions and services.
- Offers: There are multiple Azure Offers. For example, Pay-As-You-Go Dev/Test, or Enterprise Dev/Test offer, to provide lower rates for dev/test VMs
- VM uptime: You can review days per month and hours per day in which Azure VMs run. Shutting off servers when they're not in use can reduce your costs (not applicable for RIs).
- Target region: You can create assessments in different regions, to figure out whether migrating to a specific region might be more cost effective.
You can view Discovery and assessment reports (with Azure readiness information, and monthly cost distribution) in the portal. You can also export assessment, and enrich your migration plan with additional visualizations. You can create multiple assessments, with different combinations of properties, and choose the set of properties that work best for your business.
As you figure out the apps and workloads you want to migrate, identify downtime constraints for them, and look for any operational dependencies between your apps and the underlying infrastructure. This analysis helps you to plan migrations that meet your recovery time objective (RTO), and ensure minimal to zero data loss. Before you migrate, we recommend that you review and mitigate any compatibility issues, or unsupported features, that may block server/SQL database migration. The Azure Migrate Discovery and assessment report, and Azure Migrate Database Assessment, can help with this.
After you've collected information about your inventory, you can identify which apps and workloads to migrate first. Develop an “apply and learn” approach to migrate apps in a systematic and controllable way, so that you can iron out any flaws before starting a full-scale migration.
To prioritize migration order, you can use strategic factors such as complexity, time-to-migrate, business urgency, production/non-production considerations, compliance, security requirements, application knowledge, etc.
A few recommendations:
Prioritize quick wins: Use the assessment reports to identify low-hanging fruit, including servers and databases that are fully ready, and require minimal effort to migrate to Azure. The table summarizes a few ways to do this.
State Action Azure ready VMs Export the assessment report, and filter all servers with state Ready for Azure. This might be the first group of servers that you lift and shift to Azure, using the Azure Migrate: Server Migration tool. End-of-support operating systems Export the assessment report, and filter all servers running Windows Server R2/Windows Server These operating systems are at the end of support, and only Azure provides a free three years of security updates when you migrate them to Azure. If you combine Azure Hybrid Benefit, and use RIs, the savings could be much higher. SQL Server migration Use the database assessment recommendations to migrate databases that are ready for Azure SQL Database, using the Azure Migrate: Database Migration tool. Migrate the databases ready for Azure SQL VM using the Azure Migrate: Server Migration tool. End-of-support software Export your application inventory, and filter for any software/extensions that might be reaching end-of-support. Prioritize these applications for migration. Under-provisioned servers Export the assessment report, and filter for servers with low CPU utilization (%) and memory utilization (%). Migrate to a right-sized Azure VM, and save on costs for underutilized resources. Over-provisioned servers Export the assessment report and filter for servers with high CPU utilization (%) and memory utilization (%). Solve capacity constraints, prevent overstrained servers from breaking, and increase performance by migrating these servers to Azure. In Azure, use autoscaling capabilities to meet demand.
Analyze assessment reports to investigate storage constraints. Analyze disk IOPS and throughput, and the recommended disk type.
Start small, then go big: Start by moving apps and workloads that present minimal risk and complexity, to build confidence in your migration strategy. Analyze Azure Migrate assessment recommendations together with your CMDB repository, to find and migrate dev/test workloads that might be candidates for pilot migrations. Feedback and learnings from pilot migrations can be helpful as you begin migrating production workloads.
Comply: Azure maintains the largest compliance portfolio in the industry, in terms of breadth and depth of offerings. Use compliance requirements to prioritize migrations, so that apps and workloads comply with your national, regional, and industry-specific standards and laws. This is especially true for organizations that deal with business-critical process, hold sensitive information, or are in heavily regulated industries. In these types of organizations, standards and regulations abound, and might change often, being difficult to keep up with.
Finalize the migration plan
Before finalizing your migration plan, make sure you consider and mitigate other potential blockers, as follows:
- Network requirements: Evaluate network bandwidth and latency constraints, which might cause unforeseen delays and disruptions to migration replication speed.
- Testing/post-migration tweaks: Allow a time buffer to conduct performance and user acceptance testing for migrated apps, or to configure/tweak apps post-migration, such as updating database connection strings, configuring web servers, performing cut-overs/cleanup etc.
- Permissions: Review recommended Azure permissions, and server/database access roles and permissions needed for migration.
- Training: Prepare your organization for the digital transformation. A solid training foundation is important for successful organizational change. Check out free training on Microsoft Learn, including courses on Azure fundamentals, solution architectures, and security. Encourage your team to explore Azure certifications.
- Implementation support: Get support for your implementation if you need it. Many organizations opt for outside help to support their cloud migration. To move to Azure quickly and confidently with personalized assistance, consider an Azure Expert Managed Service Provider, or FastTrack for Azure.
Create an effective cloud migration plan that includes detailed information about the apps you want to migrate, app/database availability, downtime constraints, and migration milestones. The plan considers how long the data copy will take, and include a realistic buffer for post-migration testing, and cut-over activities.
A post-migration testing plan should include functional, integration, security, and performance testing and use cases, to ensure that migrated apps work as expected, and that all database objects, and data relationships, are transferred successfully to the cloud.
Build a migration roadmap, and declare a maintenance window to migrate your apps and databases with minimal to zero downtime, and limit the potential operational and business impact during migration.
We recommend that you run a test migration in Azure Migrate, before starting a full-scale migration. A test migration helps you to estimate the time involved, and tweak your migration plan. It provides an opportunity to discover any potential issues, and fix them before the full migration.
When you're ready for migration, use the Azure Migrate: Server Migration tool, and the Azure Data Migration Service (DMS), for a seamless and integrated migration experience, with end-to-end tracking.
- With the Server Migration tool, you can migrate on-premises VMs and servers, or VMs located in other private or public cloud (including AWS, GCP) with around zero downtime.
- Azure DMS provides a fully managed service that's designed to enable seamless migrations from multiple database sources to Azure Data platforms, with minimal downtime.
Example azure migration project plan
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