Azure Migrate – Where Should I Start?

If you are thinking about making a move to Azure, it is important to first understand how to approach it. With the right approach and adequate planning, a stay can be straight forward, efficient and devoid of surprises.

Therefore, the starting point is the Microsoft cloud operating model. This is a detailed white paper that allows you to strategize migration. It is a comprehensive document covering cloud readiness, people strategy and technical analysis.  And your people’s strategy, “Who is taking us to Azure?” You can progress to the technical phase.

The majority of the initial steps to Azure are often host migration, or “lifts and shifts”, as these are the most common, I will refer to this scenario as an example. There are four stages:

Four steps to Azure Migrate – Assess, Migrate, Optimize and Protect and Manage,

The first phase of the technical phase is to assess. This means understanding what it is that you are leading and what will be the best process. This includes costs ranging from involving business stake holders to application evaluation. From this analysis you should get an output that not only gives details of where the application can go but more importantly where it can go.

Microsoft provides several tools to help with some of it. First up is Azure TCO. This allows you to estimate the cost savings you can make by migrating to Azure. Next is Azure Migrate, an assessment tool that is free and allows you to discover, document and evaluate your workload and their dependencies. You can then create a cost estimate to run them in Azure.

An example of azure migrate dependency

Now that you have your environment discovered, grouped and properly sized, you can start shifting your workload. Microsoft also provides a service for this, Azure Site Recovery (ASR). This service allows you to replicate your server from your on-premises environment. For most services this application is aware, meaning that it can replicate services like SQL Server without any data loss. Before you implement ASR it is important to use your data in capacity planning for your replication needs from your Azure migrate. Taking this step allows replication of workload and greater speed and efficiency during migration.

Microsoft also provides a script repository to migrate a large number of VMs simultaneously. These can be from VMware, AWS, GCP or physical server. There are some limitations, the most restriction is the lack of support for managed disks, but you can manually flip these later. Script and guide can be found here.

The amount of time it takes to transfer your workload is determined by your business needs. However, once completed, it is important that you revise these workloads for optimization. Azure advisors can provide recommendations, but the key areas to focus on are:

VM Sizing – Ensure that the VM is running at a reasonable size to achieve maximum cost efficiency

Storage Tier – Ensure that the disks associated with the VM are using the correct tier to balance performance requirements against costs.

Reserved Instance – Once the VM is sized correctly, purchase a reserved instance to get the maximum discount for running your workload for one to three years.

Now that your workload has been migrated and optimized, your final step is to make sure that they are safe and properly managed. The best place to start with this process is the Azure Security Center. It provides integrated security management and allows you to take action to reduce risk and implement actionable recommendations. This would include common requirements such as disk encryption and anti-virus. More advanced and platform specific features like Just Add Time access are also available.

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