Migrating to Azure can be a highly complex process, proper planning and implementation are needed to reduce migration friction and disruption. But to achieve this, it is necessary to understand the precise requirements of a business and then build a solution that meets these and the available budget.
It’s just like moving to a new house, before you decide on the new house, you need to identify the requirements (square footage, beds, bathrooms, garden) so it fits your family’s needs and budget. Then you’ll start doing your financial planning (mortgage, savings, etc), once the house is yours, you’ll have to plan what to bring to the new house which will probably mean you’ll have to do a cleanup of what you already have so you can move only the things you need and want to keep. Migrating to a cloud environment requires that same level of careful planning and execution.
As a Microsoft Azure Consultant in Boston, we strive to help businesses align their business objectives to the cloud and seamlessly migrate workloads and processes, achieving better business outcomes. Here are four tips we always include in our advice for businesses considering an Azure migration.
1. Have clear goals when doing the discovery and planning
Achieving the benefits of the cloud, such as lower costs, greater agility, enhanced scalability, and easier management, will only be possible if your migration is done with careful consideration of the business impact. This is why discovery and planning is an essential step in a migration project. Considerations such as the suite of applications to be used, the volume of data stored and the number of users must be done early in the project.
These will determine the scale of the infrastructure needed, the compliance and security layers to consider, and ultimately the budget and timeline. Understanding the requirements in detail and building the solution around these, leads to a result that allows for future scale, agility, and higher levels of performance.
Here are some questions your team should answer at this stage, to get more aligned goals:
- What are the workloads we are considering to migrate?
- What dependencies exist between workloads?
- When was the last time these workloads were optimized?
- What is the size of these workloads and what is the business impact of the migration?
- What are the timeline, stakeholders, and key tasks in the migration process?
You can always check some of the most helpful Microsoft Azure migration resources to guide you in this process:
2. Assess your Workloads for technical fit
The first thing you need to understand is that not every workload that runs on-premises can offer your business the same benefits when running on the cloud. This step is all about assessing the specific business outcomes you can get from a cloud environment and if it outages the potential risks.
As discussed in our blog about Cloud Service Models, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, will offer different benefits and flexibility to your organization, but having all your workloads migrated might not be cost-effective. For instance, some legacy and highly customizable applications may only be able to run on Azure’s infrastructure as a service (IaaS) model. This means moving them completely to the cloud can increase the management complexity and become very costly, especially if you need to run high-performing virtual machines (VMs) and virtual servers; keeping these workloads running on-premises makes more sense.
Now, when migrating to the cloud, knowing what needs to be virtualized (VMs, Servers, Applications, etc) is only part of the story. You also need to consider doing an intensive analysis of the software and applications you plan to migrate and consider things like compliance, data transfer rates, recovery time, and user access. This will determine how a workload will perform in a cloud environment given your business demands.
3. Consider a Hybrid Cloud Deployment
As mentioned before not every workload should be migrated to a cloud environment, and your business should consider having a hybrid cloud deployment that harnesses the power of both Public and Private Clouds to handle different workloads.
For instance, you can consider Private Cloud for non-variable workloads or where maximum performance and compliance is required; and Public Cloud, for front-end operations such as transactional workloads and fast production environments that could take advantage of a growing set of features.
Here are some questions to ask when considering a Hybrid Cloud deployment:
How will you protect the integrity of the data and business continuity? Additionally to the security layers cloud providers offer, what other security technologies can be deployed?
What are the roles and responsibilities of your IT team in this deployment? Essentially who’s going to be managing what…
What processes are needed to make sure the data is moving around efficiently and reliably?
4. Look for an Azure Consultant with experience in your industry
Migration can be challenging and quite stressful, especially if you lack the knowledge and resources to do so. Seeking help from an experienced IT service provider will help take a great deal of stress out of migrating to the cloud, allowing you to focus on your day-to-day operations. It’s also important to look for an Azure consultant that has experience working with businesses in your industry.
They will be able to point out best practices, regulations, and general process configurations to make sure you are making the most out of your cloud investments, staying competitive and relevant in your industry. This minimizes the risks and ensures a more streamlined migration.