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Cloud Migration and Modernisation with Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure offers simplified cloud migration and modernisation services to organisations that are looking to leave behind on-premises infrastructure. In order to harness the full potential of the cloud, organisation must adopt a cloud-native approach. See how you can migrate and modernize your applications using Azure. 

Leaving behind the traditional data centres and moving to the cloud is a major decision for many organisations. Due to a lack of expertise, most businesses cannot maximise their ROI from cloud migration and modernisation. Businesses shifting to the cloud do so for various major reasons, including cost reduction, increased agility, and quality of service. 

Cloud-based solutions offer significant cost reductions when compared to physical infrastructure. Besides reducing costs, migrating to the cloud also allow businesses greater scalability.

On-premise infrastructure takes a considerable amount of time to be fully operational. However, solutions provided by Microsoft Azure ensure a seamless cloud migration experience by providing organisations with instant access to their services and resources. 

Feel free to contact our Microsoft Azure Consultants for expert advice on cloud migration and modernisation.

Understanding Cloud Migration and Modernisation

Cloud migration is the relocation of all or some of the company’s digital assets from a physical server to a cloud server. Given the dynamic business environment of today’s world, most organisations are leaving behind traditional infrastructure and opting for cloud-based solutions. 

Operating your applications and systems as you did before, once they have been migrated, negates the advantages cloud solutions offer. To harness the full potential of cloud solutions, businesses need to adapt to cloud-native implementations where possible and execute application modernisation practices.

Understanding the Cloud-Native Architecture 

Native components of the cloud are designed differently when compared to the hardware-specific software used in traditional data centres. Cloud-native architecture provides a platform that supports various functionalities specific to the cloud. Such functionalities include automatically scalable applications that result from serverless computing. The cloud-native architecture is characterised by

  1. Containers
    The term container refers to a cloud-specific construct that simply holds everything an application needs to operate. 
  2. Microservices
    Microservices are independently running bits of code that operate independently and are separately upgradeable. Microservices have few dependencies and are tailored to perform specific actions or tasks.

Understanding Application Modernisation 

Application modernisation is a process of app swaps and rewrites that allows businesses to be cloud-native. Along with enabling businesses to become cloud-native, it also allows them to keep some of the applications that are the fundamentals of their core operations. In the first level of application modernisation, rearchitecting and rewriting applications is not required as it is a lift-and-shift approach. 

The second level of application modernisation is a modernise-only approach, but only minimal changes to the code or configuration are required. However, the final level of app modernisation is a cloud-native approach and requires a rewrite and re-architecture.

Stages of Cloud Migration and Modernisation 

Migrating to the cloud is a continuous process that requires organisational change regarding the employees, organisational processes, and technologies. Such organisational change requires a holistic approach that results in a successful transition and leads to the realisation of benefits.

An organisation’s cloud migration and modernisation journey can be divided into three stages: planning, implementation, and operations. 

Planning 

The planning stage of the migration journey requires businesses to define their motivations for migrating to the cloud. In this stage, organisations focus on developing a concrete plan for their cloud migration and modernisation initiatives. 

1. Defining Your Strategy

In this stage, it’s important to define why you want to migrate to the cloud. Along with the reasons for migration, it’s critically important to highlight what quantifiable outcomes you want to achieve from cloud migration and modernisation. 

While defining your strategy, engaging with cloud migration and modernisation partners is feasible to help augment your cloud skillset and reduce risk. 

2. Assessing Infrastructure 

Before migrating to the cloud, organisations need to assess their application, databases, and infrastructure. Also, considerations about which applications will be moved to the cloud and what type of cloud infrastructure will be used need to be made. 

3. Calculating Cost of Ownership 

Cloud migration and modernisation can significantly reduce costs and operational efficiency for businesses. However, to ensure a positive ROI, it’s important to calculate Azure’s total cost of ownership (TCO).

4. Holistic Approach 

When planning cloud migration and modernisation, it’s important to consider the amalgamation of various business practices such as workload priorities, timelines, resources and funds. 

Implementation

While implementing cloud migration, it’s important that your IT staff’s capability is on par with cloud technologies and migration tools. The implementation stage generally focuses on creating a new technology model and culture within the organisation that focuses on innovation and efficiency. 

  1. Building Cloud Skills
    Before migrating to the cloud, it’s important that your software development team is up to date with cloud technologies, such as Azure AD. In most cases, investments in upfront training for your employees can scale the migration efforts. 
  2. Migrate Iteratively
    When migrating to the cloud, it’s important to migrate one or a small collection of workloads per release. This can help ensure that the workloads are ready to meet production demands by assessing them with each iteration. 
  3. Modernise Iteratively
    Modernisation involves refactoring, rearchitecting, or rebuilding your organisation’s applications. Modernisation helps organisations harness the cloud’s full potential and can be done at any stage. However, it’s better to modernise iteratively to boost your app’s innovation and agility.

Operations 

The operations stage of the migration and modernisation journey encompasses the governance and management of the cloud environment. 

1. Governance 

Here organisations need to focus on establishing appropriate cloud usage standards that align with the organisation’s needs and enable cloud budget tracking. 

2. Manage

When managing cloud environments, organisations must ensure security and workload management by having timely backups and security checks using tools such as Microsoft Secure Score.

What is Azure Migrate?

Azure Migrate offers organisations simplified cloud migration and modernisation services. Its extensive framework allows the integration of third-party tools, which expands its usability scope. Azure Migrate offers a unified migration platform and various assessment, migration, and modernisation features.

Azure Migrate – Discover and Assessment Tool 

The discovery and assessment tool provided by Azure Migrate assesses on-premise VMware VMs, Hyper-V VMs, and physical servers for migration to Azure. The tool assesses various SQL servers and web apps ready for the cloud migration to Azure. Along with this, it provides cost and sizing estimates and a dependency analysis as well. 

Azure Migrate – Server Migration Tool 

The server migration tool offered by Azure provides access to an Azure Migrate hub. From the Migrate hub, users can select the tool they want to use for the migration. The tool allows the migration of VMs, Hyper-V VMs, and on-premises physical servers to Azure using agentless or agent-based migration. 

Application Modernisation Using Microsoft Azure 

Azure allows application modernisation using containerisation. This process allows the code to be carried from one computing device to another in a zip drive manner. Once your apps have been migrated to the cloud, rearchitecting is not always the best solution in terms of cost and time. 

In order to maximise cost-effectiveness, you need to determine which of your applications need transformation, rearchitecting, or partial modernisation. Along with this, you need to assess which of your applications can be shifted directly to the cloud. 

The three levels of Azure application modernisation your organisation can use are:-

  1. Cloud Infrastructure Ready
    This is the first level of app modernisation and requires no rewriting or rearchitecting of the code and allows quick migration to the cloud. This is commonly referred to as a lift and shift approach where your applications are deployed on VMs hosted on Azure.
  2. Cloud-Optimised
    This is the second level of app modernisation and requires minimal changes to the code or configuration of the applications, but no re-architecting is required at this stage. 
  3. Cloud-Native
    The third level warrants complete application modernisation. It includes rewriting and re-architecting of the code or configurations and ensures that your applications are designed and configured natively to the cloud. 

Along with having numerous benefits such as improved scalability and agility, app migration and modernisation ensures cost reduction by not having organisations operate on a CapEx model.

Strategies for Cloud Migration and Modernisation

Finalising the right cloud migration strategy is the key to success. Before implementing their migration and modernisation, organisations must understand which migration strategy is the most suited for them. 

 

The choice of strategy will be governed by the organisations’ motivations for cloud migration, what their expected quantifiable outcomes are, and an assessment of their current infrastructure.

The strategies for Cloud Migration are:-

Rehost

This strategy involves a simple “lift and shift” approach toward migration. Rehosting involves the use of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), where data and applications are simply deployed onto the cloud. It’s the most suited option for organisations that are not familiar with the cloud environment. 

Refactor 

The refactoring approach is similar to the previously mentioned strategy but requires minimal optimisation of your applications for the cloud without changing its core architecture. The Platform as a Service (PaaS) model is used in this strategy. PaaS is similar to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in that it includes servers, storage, and networking. However, PaaS also provides various other options, such as developer tools, middleware, and business intelligence services. 

Revise 

The revising strategy requires more significant changes to the code and architecture of the system that is being moved to the cloud. This optimisation is done so that applications can take complete advantage of the cloud. In order to harness the full potential of the cloud, this strategy may require major changes to the code and architecture.

Rebuild 

The rebuild approach completely disregarded the existing code and replaced it with a newer version. This strategy requires a lot of time and incurs high costs. Therefore, it should only be implemented when companies decide their current solutions are not meeting business requirements.  

Replace 

This strategy is similar to the rebuild approach in terms of abandoning previous solutions. However, in the replace approach, companies don’t focus on rebuilding the code from scratch. Instead, they opt for third-party pre-built applications that are provided by the vendor.

Best Practices for Cloud Migration and Modernisation 

Cloud migration and modernisation is a major move for organisations regardless of their size and can have monumental benefits if done correctly. When migrating your organisation’s data, systems, and applications to the cloud, there are various factors that business leaders need to consider. 

Some of the industry best practices to ensure a seamless migration and modernisation include:- 

  • Establish KPIs – KPIs are the best way to measure the results of your organisation’s migrations efforts. Some of the key KPIs include a predefined reduction or elimination in capital expenditures or a measurable increase in scalability and flexibility.
  • Assure Compliance – It’s better to check all the regulations that could be applicable to your organisation once the migration to the cloud is complete. Failing to keep up with such regulations can result in hefty penalties and legal consequences. 
  • Maintaining Data Integrity – Managing the integrity of your company’s data is of paramount importance, as sensitive data could easily be leaked during cloud migrations. 
  • Develop DRP – For first-timers, migrating to the cloud involves a setup that hasn’t been tried or tested. Therefore, organisations need to ensure that they have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place to tackle any unforeseen problems that may occur.

Conclusion 

In the digital age of business, cloud migration and application modernisation have become a necessity for every organisation, regardless of its industry. Migrating to the cloud offers businesses a wide array of benefits, such as increased scalability and flexibility. Along with this, the type and extent of migration you choose can also allow you to significantly reduce or eliminate capital expenditure costs as well.  

Successful migration to the cloud requires organisations to find options that are tailored to their requirements. If your organisation lacks the expertise, then contact our Microsoft Azure Consultants now, and let us help you on your migration and modernisation journey.

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