Azure Migration Strategy: The Lowest Risk Path to the Cloud
Every day more businesses are embarking on the journey to the cloud, or more specifically, to Microsoft Azure. They’ve done their research, learned about the benefits of the cloud, and have finally decided to make the switch. But, moving an application, workload, or entire network to Azure isn’t always a simple process. So, before any organization begins its big move, it’s important to plan out and understand an Azure migration strategy.
But that’s often easier said than done. Don’t worry if you’re not quite sure where to start- we’re here to help! We’re going to walk through the most important components of any Azure migration strategy. By the end of this blog, you will be able to design a customized approach for your business. Getting to the cloud has never been easier.
Before we get into planning an Azure migration strategy, let’s discuss why an organization might choose Azure. Azure is one of the largest cloud service providers because it is productive, intelligent, trusted, and offers hybrid capabilities.
With Azure, you have access to over one hundred different features and services. It offers unparalleled developer productivity with features like Visual Studio and DevOps. And all of these are housed under a single cloud, meaning you get unified and simplified management.
Azure is an intelligent cloud with artificial intelligence tools for every developer and every scenario. Need language APIs? You have it in Azure. Azure machine learning, Azure SQL Database, and Azure Bot Service are also available to any Azure customer, providing customizable services, tools, infrastructure, and computing.
With more compliance certifications than any other cloud provider, you can trust Azure to keep your data safe and your organization compliant. It also boasts over fifty Azure regions, while continuing to make investments on new ones.
And finally, Azure is possibly the best choice if you are looking to leverage a hybrid cloud model. With tools like Azure Active Directory, Azure Stack, and more, you can create a common identity extending from your on-premises infrastructure to the cloud.
With all of these benefits, it’s not surprising that many organizations are choosing Azure as their cloud provider of choice. Azure also offers tools to ease the migration process. And with that, let’s get into planning out your Azure migration strategy.
Planning an Azure Migration Strategy
The first step to any cloud migration is getting buy-in from the leaders in your organization. Fortunately, with the growth and success of cloud adoption, more leaders are beginning to realize the power of the cloud. For example, ROI is 435% for infrastructure as a service (IaaS) adoption and 466% for platform as a service (PaaS) adoption. With these statistics in mind, many business leaders see the cloud (and Azure) as the opportunity that it is.
Once you’ve convinced your organization to utilize the capabilities the cloud has to offer and decided on Azure, there are three phases we recommend for your Azure migration strategy: Assess, Migrate, and Optimize. Let’s take a closer look.
Phase 1: Assess
Before any migration can happen, you must take a moment to assess your current workloads and systems. You’ll need to discover all of the assets that you want to move to Azure. Some migrations include moving large workloads while other migrations are much smaller.
This is why assessment is critical. Understanding everything that can be moved, how long it will take, and the risk associated with the migration will lead to better planning.
One tool that Azure offers to help with your assessment is Azure Migrate. Azure Migrate includes robust features that can assess physical hosts and map out dependencies. It also provides invaluable workload insights. By using utilization history, Azure Migrate can help you determine what capacity you will need in the cloud. Resource and capacity planning can be extremely difficult, and this tool eases the burden immensely.
On top of this, Azure Migrate provides your estimated monthly run costs and insights into your migration risks and recommends tools for your network.
Phase 2: Migrate
Once you’ve assessed and mapped out your applications and workloads to be migrated, it’s time to make the move. There are a few different migration strategies depending on what your timeline looks like and what your needs are.
Rehost (Lift and Shift)
A rehosting strategy, also called a lift and shift, involves picking up your application or workload and moving it into Azure as it is. This type of Azure migration strategy is done without modifying code. For example, you could move a line of business applications to Azure Virtual Machines. In this situation, you would still be responsible for the operating system, but not the underlying infrastructure.
Next up, let’s discuss a refactoring Azure migration strategy. With this approach, you would minimally alter application code or configuration, making small changes to optimize for Azure’s PaaS tier. Using this strategy, you could refactor an existing app to Azure App Service or Azure Container Services.
Another possible Azure migration strategy is a rearchitecting strategy. Here, you will modify or extend the existing application’s architecture or codebase for the cloud platform and better scalability. An example of a rearchitecting strategy in action would be decomposing a monolithic application into microservices that work together and readily scale on Azure.
The last strategy we’ll talk about is the most difficult and time-intensive. It involves rebuilding an application from scratch using cloud-native technologies on Azure PaaS or serverless tiers. Building a new application with innovative cloud native technologies like Azure Functions, Logic Apps, or Azure Cosmos DB would all be using a rebuilding approach.
When comparing these four different Azure migration strategies, think about your needs. A rehosting strategy is the least expensive option and takes the least amount of time. If you are in a hurry to get to the cloud or are experiencing hardware failure, this might be your best option.
Each approach following will take more time and resources, with a rebuilding strategy being the most complex and expensive.
Phase 3: Optimize
For the third phase in our Azure migration strategy, it’s time to optimize. You may think that after you migrate your workloads into the cloud, the work is done. However, it’s essential to optimize your network for security, cost, and management. But the great news is that Azure offers helpful tools for these steps as well.
For security, the Azure Security Center provides monitoring, threat alerts, and protection against various cyber attacks. There is a free tier with this tool. However, we recommend purchasing the higher tier for a monthly fee, which gives you more robust and advanced features.
You’ll also want to protect your data in the cloud with Azure Backup and monitor your cloud health with Azure Monitor. With the combination of these tools, you can secure and manage your cloud simply and effectively.
On top of all that, you’ll want to optimize your costs in Azure post-migration, and you can do this with Azure Cost Management. This tool helps you monitor and control your Azure spending and optimize your resource usage. This way, you will ensure that you are only using what you need and only paying for what you use.
Overall, if you follow these three steps, your transition into Microsoft Azure should be smooth and seamless. Assess your current environment, choose your Azure migration strategy, and optimize for security, management, and cost.