It’s understandable to feel intimidated by migrating your on-premises IT to the Cloud or upgrading to the latest platform.
This requires your team to undertake thorough planning, acquire new knowledge and ensure careful attention to detail. In order to solve these challenges and deliver speed, reliability, reduce risks and ensure security Microsoft recommends you break down your migration process into three steps - Assess, Migrate and Optimise. In this blog, we’ll take you through each step with tips of how to achieve the best results.
In this phase you’ll need to look at your current environment and define what you have, its location, its purpose and if it’s suitable to move to the Cloud.
You need to ask the following questions:
Which applications can migrate to Azure and which should remain on-premises?
What about the services used by each application? Can they be split across on-premises and the Cloud?
Are there dependencies between applications that will influence which ones move, or impose constraints?
What is the expected impact on the network?
Will the migration require changes to how you authenticate and authorise user access?
What databases do the applications depend on and where should they be located?
How will a migration to Azure impact budgeting and costs?
Useful tools include Azure Migrate and Microsoft Data Migration Assistant. Following this process you’ll be able to list what you have found and rank them according by business importance - critical being at the top and lower-level workloads at the bottom. These tiers will enable you to prioritise your migration operation.
You can now organise your inventory into four basic categories of workloads and apps e.g.
Custom applications, or line-of-business (LOB) applications, developed in house.
Microsoft applications including Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, or workloads running on Remote Desktop Services.
Microsoft-partner applications such as SAP and Adobe, or other off-the-shelf partner applications.
Servers that run key workloads, including network services like Domain Name System (DNS), file and print servers, and other Windows Server components.
Once you’ve achieved a good understanding of what you need to migrate, the business dependencies and what benefits the business will see you are ready for the next phase.
Each workload and app will require specific next steps based on their type, criticality and risk assessment. Here are four options offered by Microsoft:
Re-host the workload on Azure, using Azure virtual machines or Windows Server containers. This works well for self-contained workloads running on Windows Servers. Azure Site Recovery or other commercial tools can be used to migrate the machine images from physical or virtual machines to Azure Virtual Machines and use Azure networking services to tie them back to your datacenters.
Refactor the applications
Your team can do this with minimal coding by placing apps in containers and moving the containers to Azure. This will most likely be the quickest and safest process to move many legacy LOB applications.
Re-architect or Rebuild applications
This will take full advantage of the advanced managed services in Azure. This is more time consuming and a larger investment than re-hosting or refactoring, but it can deliver improved agility, performance, and resilience at a lower total cost of ownership.
Even if you need to keep apps and workloads on premises, you may still need to improve security, reliability, and flexibility. That’s why upgrading these applications to the latest version of Windows Server delivers these benefits whether you adopt a DevOps model or stick with conventional operations. Whatever operating model you use, upgrading to the latest version of Windows Server helps you reduce maintenance costs while simultaneously allowing you to upgrade your operational processes.
Once the Migrate phase is complete, you can start to enjoy the fruits of your labour. You’ll start to see the benefits and the day-today realities of cost savings from increased operational efficiencies, reduced capital expenditures, improved functionality, better security, and more flexibility.
As you will most likely chose to migrate incrementally, after each successful migration you have a chance to learn and improve on your asses phase going forward. Now that you’re working at ‘Cloud speed’ you will need to stay up today with the technologies that will enable you to get the most out of your Cloud migration.
On-premises and Cloud security have critical differences. For example, the Cloud provider is responsible for physical security and software patching of the environment that hosts your applications. Therefore, when you migrate applications to Azure, you’ll still use your security information and event management (SIEM) software, combining Cloud and on-premises security information into your existing system of monitoring and control. Simultaneously, you’ll benefit both directly and immediately from the huge investment Microsoft has made in Azure physical and logical security (See our blog -3 Reasons Your IT Security Strategy is Safe with Microsoft Azure). To improve the overall security of your business operations, you should evaluate these technologies during the optimise phase and see how to integrate them with your on-premises, Cloud, and hybrid applications and networks.
Most businesses have specific governance and compliance requirements. Common tasks such as collecting sales tax payments will be controlled by complex regulation, law and processes.Depending on your industry, you may be bound by regulatory regimes such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Thankfully, Azure and Office 365 offer many tools for tracking and improving regulatory compliance. The Azure Trust Center showcases the dozens of regulatory certifications and attestations that Microsoft has earned for its services; these certifications help give you confidence that the Cloud solutions you deploy on Azure will accelerate your progress towards full compliance with the applicable regulations for your operations.
Are you ready to step up into the Cloud?
If you are thinking of getting your enterprise up into the Cloud, find out more about our StepUp 365 - Azure solutions by reading this client case study - Flooring Xtra: On-premises to Microsoft Azure.