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Best Practices for Migrating to Microsoft Azure

Posted: Oct 2, 2017
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Best Practices for Migrating to Microsoft Azure

If the decision has been made and Azure is set to be integrated into a business’s network, then the big question can be asked: Which steps must be taken to migrate to Azure?

A phased in approach has been found to be the best solution to ensure a quick and effective migration process. This practice has been adopted to many migration efforts, such as Office 365, etc.

The steps are as follows: Pre-Migration, Migration and Post-Deployment


Pre-Migration

When it comes to pre-migration, businesses can benefit from asking a lot of questions. Being clear on details will help for a smoother transition. These businesses should also be prepared for the questions that they could be facing from their employees or, more specifically, their IT staff.  These questions would be “Why are we going to the cloud? What’s the cost of it?” and others along those lines. If this step is ignored, there could be issues.

“The business has to understand why we’re going there; what’s the benefit, what’s the rationale from a business standpoint?”  - Scott Thibodeau

There are different steps even within pre-migration. Many students come looking to get training on the cloud when their organizations have not even switched over yet. Microsoft recommends an easy first step in the pre-migration process is to implement Office 365.

Readying the Tools

The best way forward in the pre-migration process is to ready the tools that will be needed to finish. Microsoft offers a few tools to help with this stage of the migration.

  • Microsoft Map Assessment & Planning
  • Microsoft Migration Accelerator

Many other third party tools are available. It’s best to figure out what the Quality of Experience (QOE) and user’s expectations are and how this will work within the cloud for them to continue using their network as normal. There are a series of steps and processes that will help users figure out how to get applications there and scale them to work properly.

Measuring Success

As part of the pre-migration questions businesses should ask themselves, figuring out the ROI and QOE are important. Companies need to identify a particular target to help develop a strategy. Many transitioners will use a phased in migration, which will help them figure out a starting point and then they can move in from there.

Measuring success covers a variety of things, from answering “Why are we migrating?” to “What are we migrating?” Success is important to everyone within a business, so ensuring that all employees understand the reasoning for the switch will help with a more successful migration.  Developing a plan for what will be migrated and when will help to guide the process. For example, is this a hybrid type situation, where some on-premises resources will still be maintained and be accentuated with cloud based-access? There is a lot of room for discussion, even in just one area, because it ties into everything.


Migration

Tools

There are few specific tools for the migration process. The Virtual Machine Readiness Assessment tool will help start the moving of Virtual Machines to the cloud. It’s focused more towards the infrastructure side of thing, so a virtual server can be moved up to the cloud.

Besides Virtual Machine Readiness Assessment, other tools are more product specific. The cloud based server, for example, can be joined with the existing infrastructure. Once integrated as part of the same organization, there is freedom to move things as would be done with internal processes. There is no migration-specific tool. This feature has been around in Windows environment for decades; it’s stayed the same because it works.

Integrating On-Premise Infrastructure

As far as integration goes, many people are still cautious about the final pieces of the transition. Many people are hesitant to transition data over to the cloud right away; this makes sense as security is a main concern for organizations. This is an area that companies would benefit from providing on-premises maintenance for the existing content.

Decommissioning Resources

Once everything has been implemented, integrated and transitioned to the cloud, then what? Time to start decommissioning resources. However, shutting everything down and assuming it is done is not the way to go about this. Some physical servers should be left going for some time, just in case there are any unseen hiccups down the road. The on-premises resources act as a safety net.

When it’s clear that everything is working the way it should be, then it would be appropriate to remove mail connectors and the like between the on-premises and cloud to ensure that nothing is happening on the internal on-premises resources. Be sure to monitor for a short period of time, to know where, if any, errors can be found.

Microsoft is diligent about providing products that are able to decommission in an efficient way if they are going to the cloud as well.


Post Deployment

Reporting

Azure specifically has a number of built-in reports with regard to application usage, security, utilization, etc. It will even build reports to show that people are logging in within a particular geographical area. Many of the same things that a person managing a network that is on-premises would be looking at are very similar types of reports that can be compiled on the cloud side.

In addition to the fact that, because there are now so many resources that are dynamically scalable, there are now a new set of details that can be reviewed when looking at efficiency of a particular server, application, etc.

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