Azure Back to School

Migrating to Azure is something that a lot of companies are exploring and embarking on. And we are seeing a lot of things trigger those conversations. However, I always maintain that regardless of what is triggering your migration, or what industry you are in, or what size your organisation is the process for your migration project will be the same. Let’s talk about the different stages and where you can find more resources and tools to help you work through the stages.

Discovery

This is a stage I fully believe has a big impact on any migration project. During the discovery phase organisations should be looking to find out more information about their environment, document things from where the servers are physically located to the ports the workloads use and on what network.

To collect this information there are many different ways you can approach it, you can use existing documentation within your org, or you can use various different tools to collect the information, CMDBs, PowerShell scripts, manual investigate, or something like Azure Migrate: Server Assessment.

And it’s not just all about the technology, there should be conversations with the people in the organisation as well. Discussions with the people who use the workloads day to day, discussions with the business owners who own the workload. Maybe there is an opportunity to replace the workload with something different, something new, maybe that process is already in the offing, but IT just haven’t been looped in. 😉

It’s also a great time to look at training for your IT department, make sure your staff are trained to use Azure and are confident at using it and supporting your workloads going forward. There are training events by Microsoft running all over the world, for free, there is also Microsoft Learn and certification tracks.

Assessment

Once you have all that data from your discovery what do you do with it?? Well it’s time to sit down and figure things out. Figure out what workloads can move to the cloud, how they can move to the cloud and potentially what workloads aren’t going to be moved to the cloud.

It’s also a chance to look at any consolidation, or upgrades that you might want to carry out as part of this project. Yes this will maybe increase the project timeline and mean a bit of extra work, but in the long run if you are running older operating systems that are end of life running them on prem or Azure isn’t ideal as it could leave your organisation vulnerable.

This is also the time to look at the cost of the migration, the cost of hosting your resources on Azure versus on prem and having those conversations with your senior leadership team and finance team. Capital expenses and operating expenses (capex and opex) are phrases you’ll start to hear questions around, so be prepared! 😉

Migration

This is when the project starts to get a bit real, this is when your starting to do something new and fun and excited in Azure. You’ll be starting to think about design of your Azure environment, naming conventions, networking, the whole thing. This can be a daunting prospect, however there are some resources which can help you start to build up the basics, the Azure Landing Zone documentation can take you through the process, decision making and deploying of all the things you need to start hosting your first workload in Azure.

One thing I always say to people at this stage is not to get caught up in whether you are using IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS. Choose the best solution for your organisation and workload. You might choose to go with IaaS initially because it suits your time scales or knowledge level, or you might go for a mix as you have the skills and workloads that suit that model.

Whatever you choose ultimately is fine. There is always the chance to change it again. 😉

Secure & Manage

This is the final stage of your migration, however, when I say final, what I really mean is the stage that will be part of your project but also become part of your normal day to day activities.

Operating in the cloud is different than on prem so you need to be aware of what your security responsibilities are and what your providers are, you also need to think about things like backup, disaster recovery, cost management, who within your team looks after what, etc. There are lots of things to think about and understand.

There is a possibility that you’ll be able to use existing monitoring, backup, disaster recovery solutions in the cloud as well, but you might have to look at new solutions and set up new procedures for reporting, update documentation etc. Now things are in place and working okay, do you start to want to restrict thing? Stop people deploying or delete certain resources? We don’t want people to not be able to use the cloud but we want to be able to have some control and safe guard people from accidently deploying a massively expensive resource and blowing the IT budget for the year. So start to look at implementing some governance with Azure Policy.

Keeping an eye on your costs is also something you want to start thinking about, it might take a while to get everything settled in but setting Azure budgets in order to keep an eye on overspends would be a good idea.

Having a look at Azure Advisor as well is something that should become part of your routine, reviewing recommendations for thinks like design best practices, or costs, or security is something that will definitely need reviewed every month or every quarter.

Overview

Hopefully that’s given you some things to think about and places to find resources if your org is embarking on a migration project.

If you are looking to learn more about Azure please do check out the #AzureBacktoSchool initiative.

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