In recent years, Microsoft Azure migration has increased significantly as it provides considerable value over running workloads on traditional on-premises datacenters. However, as with any cloud migration project, migrating workloads to Azure requires careful planning and strategy to ensure maximum value and minimum disruptions. Many workloads that previously ran on-premises can run immediately on Azure without modification, while other workloads that have operational and application dependencies in an on-premises environment require further analysis and planning.
It’s critical to understand that while sometimes cloud migration can be simple, with only a few decision points, other times it can be more complex because of the number of servers and virtual machines that are in use. Your Azure migration plan could require you to run parallel and iterative migration processes as you progressively move your applications and workloads to the cloud. Whether your migration is simple or complex, it’s important to identify and inventory your on-premises resources, applications and workloads to plan where your Azure migration should start.
Preparing for Azure migration
Before migration begins, you need to ensure that your virtual datacenter in the cloud is ready to receive your workloads and your cloud foundation is solid. If you already have workloads or DevTest running on the cloud, then you may have the environment and connectivity ready to go. However, if you’re new to the cloud or only have a basic setup, you’ll need to perform a few steps before migrating workloads to Azure. Prior to migration, you need to build a virtual datacenter with the elements that are comparable to your on-premises environment, including identity, storage, networking, and connectivity.
With your workloads being stored within the cloud, you’ll want seamless access for users between your existing on-premises systems and workloads that you have migrated. To ensure a harmonious user experience, a good investment is a cloud-based identity management solution connected to your on-premises environment. In most cases, this means running Azure Active Directory or a similar solution.
When moving applications from on-premises to the cloud, you will want to keep them in the same networking subnets and even IP address ranges to ensure a seamless migration. Virtual networking can support this and merge with your on-premises physical networking architecture. This ensures that your applications can continue to use the network topology they were built upon, further easing migration.
Migrating to the cloud requires a storage platform that will meet the expected performance needs of your migrated workloads. In the cloud, virtual storage is often through blobs or page blobs, depending on the type of data being stored. Working with a virtual storage platform like Azure means you can easily configure exact storage requirements for each workload as needed, without having to worry about physical architecture. It requires you to enter just a few details before acquiring secure, reliable, and available storage for your migration project.
During migration, you will move vast amounts of data. Azure ExpressRoute is a compelling tool to use as it enables a faster, private connection to Azure and ensures both performance and security— especially in the initial heavy lifting of migrating virtual machines to Azure. This provides you with a dedicated connectivity option to help with the data transfer, which involves considerable data flowing across the wires.
Assessing your IT environment in four steps:
Technical and business planning for Azure migration comes down to four straightforward steps:
- Identification of application and server dependencies
- Assessment of on-premises applications and servers
- Configuration analysis
- Cost planning
1. Identifying application and server dependencies
The most successful cloud migrations begin with a detailed inventory and assessment of on-premises IT resources. The point of the inventory and assessment is to identify opportunities to optimize the IT environment in preparation for the migration. Thorough assessments will help you create a cost-efficient and seamless migration plan. Before you create your Azure migration plan, a key to cloud success is to first assess your environment to prioritize which applications and workloads are ideal for migration. Start with applications that are expected to have few dependencies to get your migration moving quickly. By establishing your cloud migration priorities and objectives early-on, you can ensure a more seamless migration process. You can assess each workload considering the following factors:
2. Assessment of on-premises applications and servers
Once you’ve identified which workloads to migrate, you also need to compile an inventory of the physical and virtual servers in your environment. While your current management tools may provide a good representation of the hundreds—maybe thousands—of applications you are running, or workloads you are currently hosting, you need an inventory mechanism that can feed data into subsequent steps.
If your applications are made up of multiple servers or virtual machines, then consolidated planning must be done to identify these and shift them to the cloud. This is not a manual process, and you’ll need intelligent planning tools to do it. Many tools in the Microsoft Azure ecosystem can enable you to tackle these needs simultaneously. As part of the Azure subscription for all customers, Microsoft offers the Azure Migrate service to provide automation for the assessment of on-premises workloads for Azure migration. The service is free-of-charge and assesses the migration suitability of on-premises machines, performs performance-based sizing, and provides cost estimations for running on-premises machines in Azure.
Using information from Azure Migrate, you can map your servers to represent your on-premises applications and hosted workloads. This will help identify dependencies or communication between servers so you can include all necessary application components in your cloud migration plan to reduce risks and ensure a smooth migration. Then you can group your servers logically to represent the applications and create the best cloud migration strategy for each application based on its requirements and migration objectives.
Azure Migrate is also an ideal tool if you have virtualized servers in VMware. It will help you identify usage characteristics like CPU, memory, and storage to equivalent Azure environments, giving you the technical and business reporting needed to continue your migration plans.
3. Configuration Analysis
When migrating an application or hosted workload to Azure, you need to know all the servers and processes the app is using and get a full picture of all communication between workloads. This will allow you to create visual maps of all your applications and workloads, which enables their interaction as a single entity for costing, configuration analysis, and eventually migration.
Configuration analysis will tell you which of your workloads will migrate with no modifications, which workloads might require basic modifications to comply, and which workloads are not compatible in their current formation. This step in the process enables you to ensure that your chosen workloads will function on Azure. Through the collected analysis, you will be able to provide metrics on the compatibility of the workload in the cloud. It will also provide guidelines to remediate potential issues or recommend configuration changes. This process will help ensure that each workload you migrate will function smoothly on Azure.
4. Cost Planning
The final step of the assess phase is collecting resource usage reporting (such as CPU, memory, and storage) to calculate and forecast for costs and expenditures. Typically, on-premises virtual machines are over-provisioned but only utilized under 20 percent. The goal for the Azure cloud model is to drive your virtual machines to at least 90 percent utilization while meeting performance and reliability goals. Therefore, the final step of the assess phase is to collect resource usage reporting such as CPU, memory, and storage via historic resource analysis so you can determine the actual usage of your workload and deploy the best cloud VM series.
There are a multitude of reasons for migrating workloads to Azure and just as many tools and resources to aid your migration so you shouldn’t be daunted by its complexity. By establishing your cloud migration priorities and objectives before you start planning, you can ensure a more successful Azure migration plan.
Whether you’re in the early stages of migration assessment or just starting to plan your approach, keep in mind that cloud migration can be made easier with a trusted partner like DXC SLMS. Together we can build a customized Azure migration plan that starts with applications that are expected to have few dependencies to get your migration moving quickly and with minimum risk of disruptions. Through integrated tools from Microsoft and our expert support, you will have the resources you need to assess your environment and build a template for future success that aligns to your business goals and objectives.
Contact us at SLMSHOSTINGAMS@dxc.com today to schedule a free strategy session for a more in-depth look at developing an Azure migration plan that’s customized for your business.
Learn more about Microsoft Azure tools and resources:
Learn more about Azure Migrate
Take advantage of discovery, assessment, guidance, insight, and mechanisms for cloud migration through this free integrated Azure service.
Learn more about Azure migration partners
Accelerate your migration with experienced assessment partners, who provide many options for your unique environments.
Learn more about Azure Hybrid Benefit
Use your on-premises Windows Server licenses with Software Assurance to save big on Azure. With this benefit, for each license Microsoft will cover the cost of the OS (on up to two virtual machines!), while you pay only for base compute costs.
Learn more about running Windows Server apps on Azure
Save up to 82 percent on the pay-as-you-go price of running Windows Server apps in Azure Virtual Machines when you combine the Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server with the upcoming Reserved Virtual Machine Instance offering.