Azure is a comprehensive cloud computing service created by Microsoft and operated through Microsoft-managed data centres. This service is highly popular and used in multiple industry sectors for building, testing, deploying, and managing a range of applications and services over the cloud.

Starting your Azure journey requires an effective cloud migration strategy in order to maximize returns. When you make the right moves, you can benefit from greater efficiency, improved agility, and enhanced scalability by operating in the cloud.

Moving to Azure brings a range of significant benefits, but the migration process requires detailed planning and careful execution. Microsoft has published individual steps to take before, during, and after migration, with all processes summarised in four distinct stages. In order to benefit from the power of Azure, it’s important to determine your strategy, ready your organization, and manage your workloads to give yourself the best chance of success.

The cloud migration process

Cloud migration is a major operation that involves making significant changes across your organization. Each operational element needs to be defined and updated, from the technology and processes that define your workloads to the networks and people that make change possible. Microsoft recommends a holistic approach to minimize risk and maximize operational benefits at all stages of migration.

  • Before migration – Define your strategy and plan your attack. This early stage requires a detailed assessment of migration readiness, with plans created and costs estimated after identifying and speaking with stakeholders.
  • During migration – Ready your organization and build your assets. During the migration phase, you need to build your skills, perform an inventory of technology resources and applications, and get help to ensure best practice execution.
  • After migration – Secure your workloads and optimize your environment. Once you’ve made the move, it’s important to gain control over your security posture, simplify ongoing management, and monitor processes to ensure optimization.

Azure migration in four steps

Microsoft has outlined a number of ways to help ensure a successful Azure migration. The entire process can be summarised in four discrete stages. Defining your strategy and building a plan takes place before migration. The migration process itself depends on your strategy and implementation goals. The optimization phase happens after migration to help you maintain control.

1. Define your strategy

Before diving into the deep end, it’s critical to define your approach and assess your operational readiness. Microsoft recommends a controlled migration process if you have time-sensitive triggers, as well as a modernization process if you’re working with targeted and business-critical workloads that involve continued investment capacity.

  • Migration involves a conceptually simple lift-and-shift strategy to the cloud, typically without code changes.
  • Modernization involves breaking down processes before rebuilding for the cloud, with modifications or extensions typical.

2. Plan your migration

A thorough planning phase is required before migration begins. Based on the details of your migration or modernization strategy, you need to examine your existing resources and dependencies to help guide the migration process. Take an inventory of your existing technology systems, including your data, apps, and infrastructure. Calculate costs and perform estimates to make a business case for migration or modernization. Build a solid plan based on your business priorities, funding and timeline constraints, and operational resources.

3. The migration process

The actual migration process depends heavily on the size of your organization and the scope of your migration plan. The following four Azure migration strategies are common across use-cases and industry sectors:

  • Rehost – This simple and fast strategy involves moving applications from your data centre to the cloud.
  • Refactor – Ideal in situations when code portability is a concern, this process reuses your existing code base.
  • Re-architect – This approach is perfect when a major revision or new capabilities are required for the cloud.
  • Rebuild – This is recommended if an application has limited functionality or lifespan, and also to enable future rapid development.

If migration is not needed, you may need to modify or extend your existing processes using modernization tools. Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capabilities enable things like built-in security, custom patching, and the ability to scale and optimize your resources for the Azure cloud architecture.

4. Optimization

Once you’ve defined your processes and successfully moved your applications to Azure, you need to make sure everything works as planned. Optimization is an ongoing and iterative process that combines detailed analysis, reporting, and management tools with a working knowledge of security and compliance protocols. Successful cloud adoption requires an active governance program in order to refine processes and integrate additional modernization tools.

Azure offers a range of professional optimization, monitoring, and backup tools, including the Azure Security Centre, Azure Monitor, Log Analytics, Application Insights, and Azure Backup, among other applications. With such a large collection of security and management tools on-board, it’s never been easier to optimize your workloads and upgrade your operational capacity.

Azure Migration Program

The Azure Migration Program (AMP) deserves special mention as the most effective and efficient way to migrate to the Azure platform. AMP combines Azure FastTrack with migration funding to give customers access to industry-leading advice and best-practice guidance with direct access to Azure engineers, tools, and subsidized partner services. Migrating to the cloud can be a complex and stressful endeavor – getting expert help is the best way to ensure a successful outcome.

Softlanding is recognized by Microsoft as an AMP Advanced Specialization Partner. If you’re looking for a professional managed IT service specializing in all aspects of Azure migration, please contact Softlanding today.

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Softlanding is a long-established IT services provider of transformation, professional services and managed IT services that helps organizations boost innovation and drive business value. We are a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold Competencies and we use our experience and expertise to be a trusted advisor to our clients. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, we have staff and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to serve clients across Canada.

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