In this era of cloud, as an enterprise, there is a lot to consider before migrating your application to the cloud. Starting from security, compliance, reliability to total cost of ownership and expertise, there are quite a few questions that must be answered before migration to cloud is even considered by your enterprise. Let’s look at the top ten frequently asked questions when migrating to Azure.
- Top down approach
Migration is a Team activity and needs initiation from the top. It is important to get business and application stakeholders’ support before you initiate the migration, as this will lead to a smoother and faster cloud migration process that meets everyone’s goals. It’s important for the leader to highlight the broader agenda, the goals and how the migration exercise will benefit the business at large and help them with faster time to market and such.
- Cloud Value Proposition
Azure powered business solutions are redefining success with scalable and secure cloud-based applications. Using deeply-integrated Azure cloud services, enterprises can rapidly build, deploy, and manage simple to complex applications with ease. Azure supports a wide range of programming languages, frameworks, operating systems, databases, and devices, allowing enterprises to leverage tools and technologies they trust. The real cloud computing advantage comes from the cost, while comparing capital expenditures to operational expenditure. This means that you switch from IT spending to a pay-as-you-go model, saving costs for your enterprise, while gaining the benefits all the same.
- Planning and Cloud Economics Assessment
One of the first things as you get prepared is to perform a Cloud Economics Assessment. This involves creating a cloud migration plan after establishing migration priorities and objectives. Assess your current environment before migration to understand dependencies as you migrate your applications to Azure. While you plan and assess, it is important to evaluate your potential cost savings of migrating to Azure. You can use Azure TCO calculator to do this assessment. Companies such as BrainScale can help you assess your environment and help create a migration plan that best suits your business and your requirements.
- Outright Cost Savings
There are certain low hanging scenarios which help you realize the benefit of cost right away. With SQL and Windows 2008 end of support, now is the time to move to Azure and reap the rewards of cloud technology, including the ability to scale up or down quickly. Whether you’re deploying new virtual machines, moving a few workloads, or migrating your data centers as part of your hybrid cloud strategy, the Azure Hybrid Benefit provides big savings as you move to the cloud. ACT NOW and move to Azure VM’s to receive extended security support for 3 years. You can contact BrainScale for more information.
*The end of support for SQL 2008 is July 9, 2019
*The end of support for Windows Server 2008 is January 14, 2020
- Security Considerations
Security is probably one of the most important consideration where enterprises spend most of their time (rightly so) and specially in the context of cloud. Cloud providers have come a long way in the last 8-10 years. Azure provides strong data security, some by default and others as customer options. Using secure protocols at the application level is good enough depending on the specific use case. Creating and implementing a virtual private network with end-to-end encryption is a solution that should be considered. At-rest and in-transit data protection allows data encryption for storage, and for any form of communication that calls for data movement between customers and the cloud, or internally between Azure systems and datacenters. Microsoft executes a complete deletion of data on customer request or on contract termination. This also involves physical destruction of any decommissioned hardware. Typically Cloud providers would also sign HIPAA BAA and such other attestations and work through the process with Enterprises in regulated industries.
- Migration Tools
There are various migration tools (partner tools can be used for richer assessment capabilities) recommended by Microsoft. These tools offer great benefits in terms of automating the entire migration effort. Some names for reference.
- Azure App Service migration assessment
- Data Migration Assessment
- Azure Migrate
- What’s a good time to migrate? Weekends, holidays?
The amount of downtime experienced is something that must be considered while you migrate your solutions to the cloud. With time, this has drastically reduced. However, often with a big migration, downtime is inevitable. It is better to plan for it accordingly. You should carefully estimate how much downtime each step of migration will cause, try to spread it out and schedule it to have minimal impact. You should also communicate to the users who would be affected by application down time.
- Service Validation and Testing
This is an important step after migration where you need to validate that your application is performing as expected. Keeping a checklist consisting of pointers you would have to test against helps achieve this effectively.
It would make sense to have your on premise and cloud-based solutions co-exist until you completely pull out from on premise infrastructure.
- Disaster Recovery and Backup
It is extremely important to have a robust disaster recovery plan in place. Any minor outage can cause service disruption. While it is unlikely that catastrophic data loss or application errors attributed to Azure will occur, you need to plan for such an event. Azure itself can be used to restore losses if such an unlikely event happens. Be sure to study the types of disaster scenarios and plan accordingly. For example, you can replicate and protect IaaS based applications running on Azure to a different Azure region of your choice within a geographical cluster. Azure Backup, Site Recovery, Failover groups are a few that can help you plan your DR.
- On-demand and Auto Scaling
This allows your applications to perform as demand requires them to and scales your metrics as per. Autoscale can be used to respond to any hike in traffic before they even occur. You can quickly know when something is wrong by setting alerts based on any metric, or even creating alerts based on events (including when autoscaling is triggered).
Now, you may ask: what next? After you have successfully migrated to Azure, and tested that things work fine, what should your next step as an enterprise be?
There will be the need for ongoing optimizations to ensure your application is performing efficiently and that you are gaining any Azure cost benefits possible, such as Azure Hybrid Benefits which bring down your costs when you bring your own license (BYOL). You should plan and optimize your workload to make it cloud-native to reap the benefits of Azure.
Top ten FAQs may vary according to your enterprise’s requirement. We do hope these are a few things that would help you get started with on your Cloud Migration Journey!