Starting an Azure Migration, Using Proven Methodologies

Azure is a powerful platform organizations can leverage to run their applications and infrastructure in the Cloud, for much less budget than traditional data centers require. More and more organizations are being won over by the many benefits Azure offers, from common interfaces, flexibility and scalability, to global coverage, powerful security and compliance support, and engaging in Azure migrations.

This blog will give you an insight into how you can begin to map out your Azure migration, along with some key steps to take to increase the success of that process for your organization.

The below steps will help you reach a specific section:

Step 1 – Assessment

Step 2 – Planning, Testing and Migration

Step 3 – Optimization

Starting an Azure Migration Using Proven Methodologies

In the past few years, IT professionals have increasingly embraced Cloud computing and made it an important part of their business strategy. The Cloud has won over businesses seeking to defer investment in new hardware, reduce burgeoning licensing costs, address scalability and agility, and provide ironclad security in an ever-changing threat landscape.

In addition to ranking as a leader in the Gartner Cloud Quadrant for several years, Microsoft Azure has helped several prominent enterprises like Adobe Systems and GE Healthcare move to the cloud, and increase productivity and innovation. One of the main advantages of the Azure platform is Microsoft’s dominance in enterprise software and its huge partner ecosystem. This enables customers to simply extend their Microsoft stack to the compatible Azure cloud using mostly out-of-the-box solutions.

Microsoft has also emphasized its growing Linux and open-source workloads (one of every four Azure Virtual Machines run Linux) in Azure, and has built several solutions around it. In this post, we’ll discuss the steps involved in migrating from an on-premises environment to the Azure cloud, and how a Managed Cloud Service Provider like Navisite can guide you through the journey of a successful Azure migration.

Step 1 – Assessment

At first, workloads must be cataloged and assessed to determine if they are Azure-ready, what their sizing in Azure would be, and what the average monthly cost would be following migration. One of the most important tools to use for this stage is Azure Migrate.

This tool helps in determining whether a company’s virtual machines can be migrated to Azure as-is, whether they are “conditionally-ready” – that is, they might pose problems when migrating – or that they are not Azure ready at all. All the remediation steps in the assessment should be followed to make the workloads Azure-ready.

Then, the tool executes performance sizing assessments and makes recommendations for the sizes of the VMs based on parameters like Disk IOPS, Disk Sizing, over-provisioned VM resources on-premises, etc. This helps the assessment tool to use a billing API and provide a rough estimate of the recurring monthly costs of Azure resource usage.

It is also important to determine if you need to use Azure Reserved VM Instances or Azure Hybrid Benefit, which can significantly reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO) when performing an Azure migration.

Another important tool that helps migrate your SQL, mySQL, PostgreSQL and NoSQL databases is the Azure Database Migration Service. It uses the Database Migration Assistant to provide a holistic overview of your SQL environment, and provides recommendations based on performance, security, and storage. The migration assistant helps you determine reliability or unsupported issues while migrating to a new SQL Server or Azure SQL Database.

Azure Migrate is currently only available for VMware vCenter environments. Another important thing to keep in mind is determining changes that might interrupt the migrated environment like application interdependencies, line of business (LOB) application requirements, and sizing based not only on Azure Migrate recommendations, but also on internal processes and on future growth.

For this reason, it is important to work with an experienced Managed Cloud Service Provider that will provide you detailed assessments and an itemized checklist to ensure a smooth Azure migration, no matter the source hypervisor and workload, and help you make the migration as effective as possible, alleviating your IT of the burdens of learning how to and performing the migration themselves.

Finally, you should review your organization to determine if personnel have the necessary skills to effectively manage an Azure environment; whether you need to train them; or, whether you prefer a Managed Cloud Service Provider to monitor and manage the environment and respond to incidents proactively.

Step 2 – Planning, Testing and Migration

This is perhaps the most important phase in the whole process. These days, having a simple proof of concept (POC) isn’t enough. When you reach this phase, remember why you chose to move to Azure—lower TCO, resiliency, and scalability. If your plan doesn’t check those boxes, then maybe it is time to brainstorm a bit more.

One of the main tools for the migration stage is Azure Site Recovery (ASR). It is important to test the failover process of ASR before performing a complete migration. This stage also requires careful planning, like creating resource groups, storage accounts, network interfaces, subnets, and network security groups before the replication and migration can be started.

Some other points to consider are how you can reduce TCO, by using features like:

It is also important that you plan and test your Azure infrastructure so that the networking and security infrastructure meets your performance benchmarks. This is especially key if you are moving to a hybrid cloud scenario. In a hybrid scenario you must ensure that the WAN technologies like Site-to-Site VPN and Azure ExpressRoute do not adversely affect the performance of your applications.

High availability and reliability are two important factors to consider when designing and planning your Azure infrastructure. Use of availability sets, for example, ensures 99.95 percent availability by making use of update and fault domains. Also, take into account use of Azure Regions and Availability Sets to ensure your architecture is resilient and meets your enterprise’s Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) goals.

Once the VMs on your premises have been assessed, they will give information on Azure readiness and whether they are ready to be migrated using ASR. At this stage, it is important to ensure that Azure resources such as Azure Site Recovery Vaults have been created already, and that you meet all the prerequisites for the ASR infrastructure and continuous replication. The VMs that have been prepared for migration can be replicated continuously and relocated, following a failover test to reduce downtime.

Another important tool to use is the Azure Database Migration Service, which migrates on-premises SQL workloads to the cloud using the best practices of Microsoft. If you want to copy files to Microsoft File Storage manually, you can use tools like AzCopy and Azure Storage Explorer. Finally, if there is too much data to be transferred over the network, you can also make use of Azure’s Import/Export Service that can help securely transfer the information using hard drives shipped to Azure data centers.

Step 3 – Optimization

After migrating your workloads to Azure, it is time to ensure that the infrastructure keeps running like a well-oiled machine. The goal of this phase is to gather operational insights, fine-tune performance, reduce TCO, and improve security to meet compliance goals. This is where the power of Microsoft’s Operations Management Suite (OMS) and other products like Azure Security Center and Cloudyn, really shine. Log Analytics, Automation and ASR help provide a complete management and assessment solution.

In addition, there are several management solutions like AD Assessment, Antimalware Assessment, Network Performance Monitor and Azure Networking Analytics that use one or more OMS products to dive deep into your infrastructure and provide searchable and actionable insights. Remember, proactive monitoring and response to unplanned incidents (either through human intervention or through automation) can help keep a constant eye on your cloud environment. Azure Security Center helps analyze security events to identify suspicious activity and act on the information to keep environments secure and compliant.

This helps define tailored policies according to applications and data, while providing an inclusive view of your environment’s IT security posture. Cloudyn provides comprehensive, real-time spending reports that allow an organization to identify the virtual machine types consuming the most overhead, which in turn, helps them to modify the Azure environment to maximize ROI. Cloudyn also provides VM Efficiency and Sizing Opportunities reports which give information on VM utilization and usage-based Sizing Recommendations that further help reduce TCO.

The Navisite Advantage

Navisite is a leading Managed Cloud Service Provider (MCSP) with more than 20 years of experience and tens of thousands of cloud and virtual machines under management. With more than 460 Microsoft-certified technicians (including more than 110 in Azure), 1,550+ IT certifications, and round-the-clock support with financially-guaranteed 99.999% uptime SLAs, Navisite supports and complements our clients’ IT staff with a full team of architects, operations and security professionals assisting in both migration journeys and management of the migrated resources, for peace of mind.

Navisite’s deep experience with ITSM-compliant operations, using ITIL-based processes, along with demonstrable use-cases in Azure migrations, ensure that organizations like yours have a successful transition to Azure, with a more reliable and secure presence in the Cloud.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you plan and implement a successful Azure migration and manage your Azure instances, or call us (888) 298-8222 for additional information.

For more information on Navisite’s Managed Azure services, please visit – https://www.navisite.com/services/managed-cloud/managed-azure. Or check out our other recent blog Azure Site Recovery: VMware to Azure Replication, along with some of our other recent content on Azure migrations here, including our recent whitepaper, Why are Organizations Choosing Azure Over AWS?

 

Mike Gallo

Mike Gallo

Director of Professional Services at Navisite
Mike Gallo

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