Before You Take the Azure Plunge – The Executive’s Guide to Migrating to Microsoft Azure

The cloud has become a significant element of the strategy for mid-size to enterprise-level companies across the globe. While some have been hesitant until now concerning public cloud, Azure is winning them over. Migrating to Microsoft Azure has never been more accessible – or more useful – for growing businesses.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Azure is a public, on-demand data center in the cloud. “Public” refers to the fact that anyone can pay to use it.

But Azure is more than a cloud-based data center.

It is TWO platforms.

It is an Infrastructure as a Service platform that supports computing, storage, dev testing, backup, disaster recovery, website hosting, and much more.

It is also an entirely managed Platform as a Service that allows you to develop and deliver solutions for applications in the cloud and mobile.

Why are companies migrating to Microsoft Azure?

Here is a short list of the benefits of Azure.

  • Azure allows a company to move away from significant capital expenditures for in-house servers to a monthly operational expense.
  • Azure is scalable – providing the capability to change your usage as your needs change.
  • Azure allows a company to securely move from on-site or colocation data center into the cloud.
  • Azure has hybrid capability – allowing a business to move some or all of their infrastructure into the cloud. The hybrid capability provides integration across apps, identities, infrastructure, and databases.
  • Azure has the flexibility to support a variety of languages (Windows, Linux, Java, .Net, PHP, Python), tools, and frameworks.
  • Azure has a global infrastructure – in thirty-eight regions.
  • Azure is a heterogeneous environment – supporting a variety of middleware, toolsets, databases, and operating systems.
  • Azure falls under Microsoft’s privacy policies, security measures, 99.9% SLA, and privacy policies – making it a secure option.
  • Azure meets the highest industry standards of compliance.

A Migration to Microsoft Azure – What should a company be considering?

Making a move to Azure is a significant decision for businesses. Sure, there are a lot of advantages to leaping to Azure, but there are always questions.

What do we need to know?

How will the migration to Microsoft Azure change our internal processes?

Is it secure?

There are a lot of things to consider.

Let’s take it one step at a time.

What are the phases that a company goes through in an Azure Migration?

  • First, you must document everything about current workloads and applications – including storage and virtual servers or machines. Having a complete inventory and knowing what each application and workload accomplishes for you will help you make informed choices.
  • Second, take what you have learned from your network, application, and workload survey and determine as to which workloads you will migrate to Azure and which – if any – will stay in-house.
  • Third, take the step and move the workloads over to Azure.

The process sounds simple, but it’s not.

Most companies do not have the in-house personnel with the right IT skill set to do an Azure migration. That’s where the IT professionals of Intelice Solutions step into the picture and make things easy for you.

What Are The Best Practices That An IT Support Team Like Intelice Implements In A Azure Migration?

It’s best to take an Azure migration in steps or stages. The stages used by IT professionals are:

Stage #1 – Preparation

Preparation is the stage where you and your IT support partner gather all the facts. It’s important for a business leader and stakeholders to get all of their questions answered at this stage. The IT professionals guiding the migration to Microsoft Azure will certainly help in providing answers.

Within this preparation phase, there are steps to take as well. To aid with those steps, Microsoft offers two tools:

As is the case with any popular IT option, third parties have also developed tools to make this transition from on-site or colocation servers to Azure.

Meeting Expectations — It is essential in this preparation phase that you and your IT support partners set expectations according to what is realistic for the migration to achieve for the business. Without clearly stated expectations and objectives, the project can end in dismal failure.

As part of exploring expectations, many questions should be asked, including:

  • What is our ultimate goal in the migration?
  • What IT professionals are you bringing in to do the migration?
  • What will the ROI be?
  • What workloads are we migrating?
  • Are we migrating everything or going with a hybrid strategy?
  • Have all the stakeholders been informed and are they clear on the objective?
  • What is the plan – and does everyone know how that will affect internal workflow?

Stage #2 – Migration

To do the actual migration, the IT professionals you have hired to do the work will use some tools built for this task. The majority of the tools in a migration toolbox are specific to the particular solutions, workload, or data. For example, if your business has existing virtual machines on your local servers or at a co-location the IT professionals will use a Virtual Machine Readiness Assessment tool to initiate the migration process for those machines.

Some of the tools used in migration are new, built explicitly for the Azure migration process, others have been part of the Windows toolkit for a while already.

There is sometimes fear among businesses at this point regarding their data. After all, they rely on that data to carry out their day-to-day activities and worry about its security within Azure. Although there is no need for worry – Azure is as secure and sometimes more secure than your internal system – there is a natural solution — hybrid hosting. Azure can host some, most, or all your workload and data – so any comfort level can be met in this regard.

The actual migration timeframe will largely depend on the size of the resources that you are moving to Azure. A small business may only take a day or two, while a migration for a large corporation can take much, much longer.

Stage #3 – Shutting Down What You Don’t Need Anymore

When you finish the migration, there will be parts of your internal systems – or co-location systems – that can be and should be decommissioned.

But you can’t just throw the switch to “off” and walk away.

There is even a process to the on-site or co-location asset shutdown. Some resources will continue to run for a little while as a precaution. When it is apparent that the migration has been successful, your IT professionals will phase out the internal resources.

How Does Migrating to Microsoft Azure Affect Your Office 365?

Azure loves Office 365! Because both are Microsoft products, they have been designed to work seamlessly together.

For example, you can manage your passwords, create and manage users and user accounts – in Azure and locally – through a functionality called Azure Active Directory. Azure Active Directory is built right into your existing Office 365 subscription. You can access Azure Active Directory through your Office 365 portal.

Want more Azure integration from your Office 365 subscription?

You can move to a premium subscription and get:

  • Advanced management options
  • Bi-directional synchronization
  • AD DS functionality
  • App access to Office 365 data – contacts, calendar, mail, files

Because Office 365 already lives in the cloud, it is entirely at home with Microsoft Azure. In fact, moving your Office 365 to Azure gives your business more administrative controls and more advanced options as you scale.

Are you thinking about a migration? Contact the Azure professionals of Itelice Solutions now at (301) 664-6800 or Info@Intelice.com

The Intelice Solutions team is a leading provider of Microsoft Solutions to Small and Medium business in the DC Metro area. Our IT professionals lead the way in helping companies migrate to Microsoft Azure to harness the benefits of this impressive technology