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Migrating to Azure

Lantech Apr 13, 2022 5:37:51 PM
Arrows pointing up to the cloud

There’s so much talk of “the cloud” however it can be difficult to understand the true benefits and total cost of ownership for the business amongst all the noise and hype.

It’s true that when done right, migrating to Microsoft Azure can enable your business to lower costs, improve collaboration, increase productivity and deliver on-demand scalability. However, migrating to Azure can also bring hurdles and unforeseen issues, that if identified in advance, can derail the entire project and expose the business to unplanned costs and potential downtime.

It is therefore vital to look beyond the hype and identify the true value the cloud can deliver to your business.

Most businesses we work with embrace the cloud and never look back however there are some businesses that due to connectivity constraints or legacy applications are unable to efficiently transition to Azure just now. It is therefore essential to partner with an experienced and qualified Managed cloud IT provider to avoid unnecessary risk to your business.

An experienced cloud-managed IT service provider will create a detailed cloud migration strategy to keep downtime to a minimum while helping your business take advantage of cloud computing. The provider can also break down the cloud migration process into separate sections or phases to ensure everything happens smoothly without causing significant disruptions to your business.

Timing is also critical. If you have just invested in new on-premise servers it may not be an ideal time to transition to the cloud from a cost perspective. However, if your infrastructure is 3 + years old, you are potentially facing increased costs from post-warranty cover and beginning the planning process to refresh the hardware. This is the ideal time to examine the 1-3 and 1-5 year total cost of ownership between on-premise and in-cloud environments.


How Do I Migrate to Azure? 

The first step in migrating to Azure is to understand the business “Why”. We do this by creating a plan unique to your business detailing all of the goals for moving to a cloud environment. This must reflect the overall business strategy and desired outcomes, otherwise, you might be embarking on a cloud migration just for the sake of it.

For example, you may want to lower costs or provide your employees greater flexibility while working remotely, improve report generation times in SAP Hanna or Business One, or provide more consistent access to critical systems, or improve cyber security and lower the overall risk exposure to the business. Highlighting your company’s goals and desired outcomes is a key step to 1) identifying overall suitability, 2) visibility on ongoing costs and 3) ensuring everyone within management is on board and fully supports the cloud migration.  

Working with a Cloud specialist service provider is especially important to ensure a smooth migration to Azure. These IT professionals will create a detailed inventory of your physical and virtual servers, on-premise applications, data, and other digital assets. They will use their extensive knowledge together with Cloud migration assessment tools to map the gathered information into a structure that will set the project up for success. They also serve to provide guidance throughout the process. The cloud specialists will identify any compatibility issues and the best ways to resolve them.

The cloud migration process can be broken down into four different approaches:

  • refactor:

    • Restructuring the application code, while not changing the original functionality

  • re-host

    • The process of taking the existing application and migrating to a new computer host

  • rearchitect

    • Rebuilding the application to become cloud-native

  • re-platforming

    • Often called the middle ground between rearchitect and re-host

A managed service provider will partner with your team to determine the best strategy for migrating each workload (server or application) to Microsoft Azure. Comparing your different options can help you find the most cost-effective strategy for migrating to the Azure platform. For example, a database migration may simply gain from being re-hosted on a more efficient server in Azure without the need to be rebuilt.

Thankfully with today's modern clouds from Azure it’s rare to have to do anything other than "re-host" which makes the whole process far more cost-efficient and enables rapid migration.


What Does Migrating to Azure Mean?

The cloud migration process transfers data and applications from on-site servers to Microsoft Azure. Many businesses choose to use the Microsoft cloud due to overall cost savings, a reduction in on-premise infrastructure, performance improvements and enhanced security.

The migration process can often vary between companies due to the unique applications and operational processes of each business. For example, a business that uses SAP will require a fully virtualised multi-host environment coupled with Azure Virtual Desktop, whereas other businesses that use Sage or Practice Evolve may only require a single instance that can be connected via Remote App or a web browser. An experienced managed cloud service provider will partner with your company to find the best migration process and deployment that meets your specific requirements.

Hybrid cloud migration is another option for businesses. This involves companies leaving some of their applications with their on-premise data center instead of transferring them to the Azure environment in one big move. Using the hybrid cloud is especially beneficial where there are a large number of servers and applications or specific applications that must remain on-premise. The business can however gain the benefits of the cloud by beginning their cloud journey while retaining complete flexibility and agility in their IT eco-system completing the full migration to the cloud as hardware or applications become end of life.

Cloud to cloud migration is another method that involves transferring your data and applications from another cloud service provider such as Amazon AWS. For example, a company may migrate to the Azure environment to access additional features and/or native integration with Microsoft specific services that aren’t available from other cloud service providers. Comparing all of your options beforehand with a qualified Azure cloud specialist can help you determine the business readiness and compatibility.


What Can I Migrate to Azure Cloud?

Migrating to Azure cloud provides plenty of flexibility to meet your company’s unique requirements. The migration and modernisation process is perfect for transferring your data and applications to the cloud.

Migrating your traditional servers and applications is a great place to start, whether you’re running Sage or SAP or Moodle or Practice Evolve or any other critical Line of Business Applications. Some applications will natively support the cloud, some may not. For example, Sage has no cloud offering for their on-premise applications, (Sage has a cloud-native application that does not fully mirror the on-premise applications such as Sage 50) however Sage can be migrated to Microsoft Azure and presented back to the users as though it was still on-premise.

You can also take advantage of Azure Virtual Desktop. This allows your business to host users' desktops in the cloud, the advantage here is each user connects to a secure windows 10 or 11 desktop that's hosted in Azure from which they can access all their applications. This allows users located anywhere in the world using any device to have secure remote access to their applications. In turn, the business is safe from external threats and can lower the cost of users' devices such as laptops as they don’t need to be company assets.

Using these cloud resources can help your business become more efficient, access talent located anywhere, enforce cyber security policies, reduce costs and become more productive. A managed cloud service provider will help your business throughout each stage of the migration process.


Why Should I Migrate to Azure Cloud?

Understanding the numerous benefits of using cloud technology is vital if you are undecided about migrating to the Cloud. One of the many advantages of using cloud resources is that it helps you decrease the need for in-house equipment, such as physical servers and other infrastructure. Resource intensive SQL Server Databases can be easily accommodated in Azure with significant improvements in performance. The Cloud also centralises and allows you to easily create data backups or deploy full BCDR without relying on manual or on-premise backups that are time-consuming and prone to errors. (No more dancing around the backup tape in a nightclub on a Friday evening!)

Other benefits of a migration to Azure include improving collaboration between employees. Your team can efficiently work with each other on projects, whether they are in the same office or dispersed across various different geographical locations. All of your data remains up to date in the cloud, which helps to boost productivity.

Cloud scalability is much more efficient than in-house resources, as you can easily add or decrease storage space or compute resources with a few clicks of a button. Whereas for on-premise infrastructure, on day one, you need to purchase your 3-5 year performance and storage requirements, leading to inefficient allocation of costs and resources. Cloud scale enables your business to consume the resources needed for peak demand, without investing in permanent resources like an on-premise infrastructure.

Dealing with infrastructure problems and single points of failure is an all too common issue for businesses. Should you suffer significant and prolonged downtime, this can lead to high costs, reputational damage and potentially an inability to recover from the event. If for example, you had a mission-critical application running on a Windows server and it was based on SQL database, using a Microsoft Azure SQL Database in a high availability environment could be a great way to keep downtime minimal.


How Do I Migrate from an On-Premise Server to Azure?

Your business has a number of options, 1) You can migrate your data and applications from an on-premise server using Azure migration tools and learn as you go, or 2) you can engage a qualified and certified Managed Cloud service provider that will guide your team throughout the Azure Cloud migration process.

Planning your cloud migration strategy begins with understanding the business strategy and desired outcomes, then an assessment of the IT ecosystem and connectivity. Once complete a plan is presented detailing what can go, together with a detailed timeline and expected budget. Once approved by the business the project team is formed and the plan put in place for the phased migration. The plan will include third parties such as software vendors and key stakeholders in the business. The plan will take into consideration any disruption and tactics to minimise the same.

It is therefore essential to employ a specialist managed cloud provider such as Lantech that has the necessary and required training and certification from Microsoft. Unfortunately not all Managed service providers understand the cloud nor are they experienced with the migration or cost control process.

When evaluating service providers be sure to ask them what migration projects they have worked on and for some references. Also, ask for their qualifications and meet the engineers who will be tasked with your project.

If you do decide to embrace the cloud, it’s essential to get it right first time so don't take any unnecessary risks. Seek advice and use a qualified provider, it will stand to your business long-term.


If we can assist you in any way with your cloud journey or answer some questions, please book a meeting using the button below.

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