Microsoft Azure Migration: 4 Important Things to Consider
Over the past years, the cloud has emerged as a paradigm shift in computing technology. It provides businesses with unmatched flexibility and IT agility, reducing network management overhead, and can even help reduce costs.
Microsoft has been one of the key players in cloud technology since its inception. Microsoft Azure, which is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, offers businesses unmatched integration with the rest of the Microsoft ecosystem, such as Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and other productivity tools.
But cloud migration needs to be planned well in advance – and understanding your cloud provider’s ecosystem is crucial. Here are 4 things that businesses in Ohio need to know in order to make their Azure migration a success.
What is Microsoft Azure?
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform that offers over 200 services. It is not a single tool, but an ecosystem of services that makes it easier for businesses to use and consume cloud computing services.
In Microsoft Azure, you can buy storage and consumer networking services, and easily integrate those with each other with much less effort and cost than it would take with on-premise systems.
In addition to these individual services, Azure also offers complete solutions that are purpose-built for a particular industry. These solutions are also offered as part of industry-specific clouds. Here are some examples:
- Azure Healthcare APIs: Transform, transmit, and manage various data formats that are used in healthcare.
- Azure Industrial IoT: Helps you connect the shop floor to your network, build AI-driven controls, and connect manufacturing processes to business processes.
- Azure Synapse Analytics: A big-data analytics service which offers integrated data warehousing and analytics solutions to activate Machine Learning (ML) use cases.
- Microsoft Hololens 2: A mixed reality offering that merges real and virtual worlds and provides dedicated solutions for retail, patient care, and engineering.
Microsoft Azure also offers a suite of robust security services like Microsoft Sentinel and Azure Security, and tools to boost productivity in the cloud.
How to Plan a Successful Azure Migration
Cloud migration is a complex undertaking. If it is not planned well, it can prove both risky and costly, as technical staff get bogged down in troubleshooting, configuration, and security concerns. That’s why it is important to identify any issues that might occur during the migration, then build a detailed action plan to tackle them in the right order.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before making the move:
- How will you secure the data when you move it to the cloud, and after you have migrated it?
- Is your business subject to any regulations on cloud usage and data protection? How would you tackle them?
- How much will it cost to run your business in the cloud? Is there a scope to save more?
- Can your processes handle downtime when you migrate? Or do they need to run 24 x 7?
These considerations will be foundational in giving direction to your Azure migration strategy. In addition, pay attention to these 4 important things to make your Azure migration a success.
Determine Which Services to Migrate First
Not all your applications and services will lend themselves to an “as-is” migration to Azure. Some of your services may not be ready for the cloud at all.
This could happen for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the service may be built on legacy technology that isn’t compatible with Azure. In other cases, there may be applications that will have to be migrated to SharePoint instead of Azure, such as intranets, internal collaboration tools, or employee portals.
The planning process involves the following:
- Building an inventory of services that you’d like to migrate
- Analyzing each service and its dependencies to locate areas of friction
- Estimating the cost of storage and compute resources for new cloud-based servers
For the technologically bold, Microsoft has a complete guide to the assessment process that should give you an idea of how we perform our Azure migrations. During the planning process, you may discover that it’s better to move a service to a more modern platform before migrating—or retire it altogether and use a SaaS application instead.
Consider User Experience Issues
Applications hosted on a local server usually offer single-digital latency, which is the speed at which information takes to travel round trip from your computer to Microsoft’s servers and back again.
When you move them to the cloud, their latency is bound to increase.
Consider data-entry professionals working in busy healthcare facilities who are likely to be riled by the fact that processes they’ve familiarized themselves with over years or decades now feel foreign and slow. Similarly, time-sensitive applications, such as shop-floor control systems, are also intolerant to a rise in latency.
This can reduce employee efficiency and erode morale. While it’s possible to mitigate these problems by deploying apps close to users, or using “edge servers,” it’s crucial to anticipate them in advance so you can communicate with your staff and proactively mitigate any problems that you face.
Dig Deep into Cloud Cost Structures
When you migrate to Azure, you pay a monthly bill for the resources you’ve used.
This shift in IT costs from capital expenditure (Capex) to operating expenditure (Opex) might raise discomfort within accounting teams, who are accustomed to budgeting for IT infrastructure annually.
This switch can be particularly confusing for business leaders in industries like construction, where there’s a tradition of buying and owning assets, such as heavy machinery. Managing those cultural shifts is an important secondary aspect of the cloud migration process.
To be safe, each business should do a projection of their cloud computing costs based on the networking, storage, and compute resources that they plan on using, and building a plan for controlling those costs.
However, because each Azure resource has its own pricing, it may be best to work with a cloud computing expert who has experience managing costs. In worst-case scenarios, the cloud could prove more expensive to your business if you don’t use services correctly or plan correctly.
Reliable Telecommunications Are Critical
Whether your users are working from their homes or from your offices, they need a way to connect to the cloud. While residential telecom broadband solutions are cheaper, there are important things to consider as well:
- Higher Latency and Slower Speeds
Any shared connection is going to underperform in terms of the latency and speed, as we mentioned above. During peak business hours, degraded telecommunications performance will affect voice over internet protocol (VoIP) call quality, teleconferencing, and lead to software timeouts.
- Service-level Agreements
Business broadband services gives you a contractual guarantee of service availability, whereas a residential connection can go down for hours or even days, without any repercussions or compensation. That level of assuredness, combined with a higher level of customer support, is enormously important in a cloud environment.
With all your data and applications are in the cloud, losing connections to them during a telecom outage could force your business to a standstill. That’s why it is crucial to have a reliable connection to the cloud during your hours of operation.
Work with a 20-Year Cloud Computing Partner
Microsoft Azure can be a powerful driver of new productivity for businesses migrating to the cloud, but the success of your migration off on the right start. The Astute Technology Management team has been helping business plan and execute Azure migrations for over a decade, and we’re here to help.
Contact us any time at 614 389 4102 or [email protected]. We look forward to speaking with you!