Keys to a successful Enterprise Migration to Azure

23 Mar 2021, MOQdigital

Microsoft, Journey to the Cloud, Microsoft Azure

Hubspot size of cloudThe Cloud has increasingly become the most effective way for enterprises to operate their most critical business applications. For enterprises that are finally ready to make the move to the Cloud, creating an enterprise Cloud migration plan is a process that can be daunting. In the initial stages, the personnel that will make up the enterprise migration team should be selected, and a full view of the current environment should be assessed.

When it comes to Azure migrations, tools like the Migration Assessment Tool give customers insight into which parts of their workload will benefit from a move to the Cloud, allowing them to consider how the migration will impact overall performance and affect costs. 

There are 6 main points to consider when planning your Enterprise’s Azure Migration: 

  1. The migration model that the application will use 
  2. Current state assessment and future state planning 
  3. How to accomplish the move 
  4. Storage configuration options 
  5. Security and availability solutions 
  6. Migrating and maintaining your Azure deployment 

In this blog, we’ll be taking a deep dive into each of these points and show you how the MOQdigital team can help you migrate seamlessly into an Azure environment. 

1. Application Migration Model

Analysis has shown that optimal migration to the Cloud can be nested under two model types: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Each of these two models has two variations: 

  • IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) 
    • Rehost – Redeploys your current setup on an IaaS without making changes 
    • Revise – Fits existing coding into the new Cloud environment by modifying or extending the code currently in place 
  • PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) 
    • Refactor – Existing code is run on top of the Cloud 
    • Rebuild – Discards the existing code in favour of re-architecting on top of the Cloud.  

The model an organisation chooses to use should reflect its structure and goals. The PaaS model, for instance, will benefit companies that work primarily online and with software development. This is because Azure PaaS offers services such as Azure App Services, which provide serverless architecture capabilities that allow R&D teams to focus on innovating for the company, rather than maintaining infrastructure. 

The fastest method to accomplish migration is the IaaS rehosting, aka “Lift and Shift?”, which uses the infrastructure components of Azure. Other options include a mixed IaaS-PaaS configuration, or completely replacing the service an organisation offers with a new one based in the Cloud. Deciding between an Azure PaaS vs. IaaS services will largely be dependent on your existing applications’ requirements.

2. Assessment and Planning the Azure Migration

The initial phase of any cloud migration is a current-state assessment of the on-premises environment to identify the connectivity of the different tiers of the application, their dependencies on on-premises resources if any, and legacy configurations that need to be updated before migration. This process helps in deciding the scope of the migration of the application, i.e. whether it will be possible to rehost and revise to IaaS or if it will be necessary to refactor and rebuild as a PaaS. The information gathered in the assessment phase goes directly into the planning phase, where deeper evaluations of the application will be done to fine-tune the migration approach. 

In large-scale environments, manually assessing environments for cloud migration is not feasible. For this purpose, MOQdigital and Microsoft recommends various tools and assessments to help customers in this process. The basic tool that can be used is a Microsoft Assessment and Planning Tooklit (MAP) that can generate an Azure VM readiness report by scanning the on-premises environment. It can provide precise information regarding the compatibility of the existing servers with the Azure platform. However, note that it does not take the dependency aspects on other services into account.

3. Accomplishing the Migration to Azure 

The objective of the move should result in a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and improved performance at lower costs. By setting your goals early on, you will be able to take advantage of Azure VM Sizing to make sure these parameters are met. The MAP toolkit and Azure Migrate also provide recommendations on the target Azure VM size based on their assessment results. Azure runs on the proprietary Hyper-V platform from Microsoft, which makes lift-and-shift rehosting procedures onto the Azure blob storage from an on-premises Hyper-V environment as simple as transferring a VHD from the old environment to the new one. 

4. Use the Appropriate Azure Storage Types 

Regardless of whether a migration is based on an IaaS or PaaS model, storage costs will increase over time. To keep rising costs under control, it is crucial to get to know the different Azure storage types and to select the storage account type that appropriately meets the application’s performance, read/write operations, and replication requirements. 

5. Azure Security and Availability Solutions 

Public cloud usage comes with a major concern: security. With some loss of data sovereignty and infrastructure control, it is important to make sure to have a strategy for encrypting all at-rest data in place. For Windows, Bitlocker Drive Encryption and Azure Key Vault can be an excellent starting point while devising this strategy. Security solutions like MOQdigital’s Azure Sentinel Managed Services offering also goes a long way in helping organisations maintain a holistic view of their cybersecurity landscape and allow them to react quickly to security alerts.   

It should go without saying that any security measures that are enacted should also keep RTO and RPO objectives in sight. Depending on your environment, maintaining Azure high availability will incorporate tools such as availability sets, and availability zones, ASR and Azure backup, and guest clustering. Having these tools within your environment can make it easy to secure and ensure your business continuity. 

6. Migration to Azure and Beyond

After spending considerable time on assessment, planning, and testing out your new environment, you are finally ready to move your workload to Azure. Now you need to think about migrating huge amounts of data to the Azure datacentres. 

Tools such as Azure Storage Explorer and AzCopy can help move data to and from the blob-based Azure storage. When it comes to hybrid deployments, Microsoft has enabled enterprises to deploy a true hybrid Cloud. Windows Azure Stack brings Azure Resource Manager, blob storage, and fault domains (among other features) to your on-premises datacentre, transforming it to a true, scalable private cloud solution. 

Funding for your Azure Migration 

If you are looking to migrate your current workload and data to Azure, and meet certain criteria, you may be eligible for co-funding from Microsoft and MOQdigital for your Azure Migration. To find out if you qualify, please get in touch with us here.