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The Best Guide To Azure Migration Tool (2021)

The azure migration tool provides enterprise IT leaders and professionals with key considerations in planning a migration and offering practical tips they need to take the next steps.

Why Azure?

Microsoft Azure has helped several large enterprises, move to the cloud, increasing their productivity and encouraging innovation. Whether you are choosing to move to Azure to lower TCO, for resiliency, or for scalability, one of the biggest advantages of the Azure platform is the dominance of Microsoft in the enterprise software space and its huge partner ecosystem.

azure migration tool

Migration to the public cloud should be considered a strategic move, which includes reviewing and planning each of the steps in advance of migration so your organization enjoys a smooth transition. You have to consider all the different subsystems, including storage, compute, and network, as well as different IT management aspects (for example, security, availability, and cost). This approach allows you to adequately prepare your team members in advance for the migration and what it means for them and their workloads.

The Assessment Phase

Before you start brainstorming on how to move to the cloud, it is essential that you determine which workloads will most benefit from a move to the cloud. This approach means using tools such as the Migration Assessment Tools and ASR Deployment Planner to gain operational insights and create an itemized checklist to help you on your cloud journey. These tools also provide a detailed view of your current environment and an analysis about what workloads, if moved to the cloud, would scale better, reduce TCO, and provide better ROI.

It is essential to form a migration team that can own the migration project from start to finish. Remember, moving to the cloud is an essential change that can cause disruptions in the forms of refactored applications, modified DevOps processes, and redesigned infrastructure. The migration team needs to make sure that the stakeholders involved in this process are aware of the forthcoming changes and are well equipped to adapt, maintain, and upsell these cloud-based services. A good starting point is the extensive documentation provided by Microsoft in the form of blogs and white papers.

The Migration Plan: 5 Key Considerations

Now that you have a fairly good assessment of your current environment, it is time to formulate a plan for migration. Here are the factors that you need to consider.

Choose your method

You should consider the following five main methods optimal for application migration to the public cloud:

Choosing the right method depends on your company’s area of focus and strategy. Are you a mobile, web, or software developer-oriented company? If so, you might be better off choosing Azure PaaS offerings such as Azure App Services, which provide server less architecture capabilities. This way, R&D teams can concentrate on innovation, as opposed to maintenance. However, if you want fast migration to Azure, you need to consider the lift and shift method and use the infrastructure components of Azure. In this case, IaaS is the way to go. Often, enterprises choose a mix of both. Refer this document to register Azure AD app.

Choose your Hybrid cloud support

Microsoft provides out-of-the-box support of hybrid cloud for enterprises. With products such as Windows Azure Stack, for example, Microsoft has enabled enterprises to deploy a true hybrid cloud. Windows Azure Stack brings Azure Resource Manager, blob storage, and fault domains (among other features) to your on-premises data center, transforming it to a true, scalable private cloud solution.

This approach enables a smooth transition to the public cloud when and if needed without substantial refactoring. Microsoft’s intent in the hybrid space is also evident in its latest server operating system which ships with several cloud provider features such as Storage Spaces Direct, containerization, and software-defined networking solutions. Taking this approach a step further are tools such as ExpressRoute and Azure AD, which provide a dedicated network to Azure and integrated directory management, respectively.

Move your compute resources

Compute resources planning is a complex topic. It is pertinent to have a solid compute migration plan, taking into consideration factors such as workload throughput, machine role, uptime guarantee, and budgetary constraints. It is also important to make sure that every variable is worked into the equation so that the final result equates to lower TCO, improved measurable performance, and a game plan to further optimize monthly costs. The good news is that you have quantifiable parameters from the assessment phase that can be utilized while working on Azure VM sizing.

Microsoft Azure runs on Microsoft’s proprietary Hyper-V platform, so executing conventional lift and shift procedures from an on-premises Hyper-V environment becomes as simple as transferring a VHD to the on-cloud blob storage. Having said that, tools such as Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter and Azure Site Recovery (ASR) have made sure that workloads from platforms such as VMware and AWS or nonvirtualized physical servers can also be easily moved to Azure VM Infrastructure.

Finally, it’s necessary to stress the importance of utilizing analytic and automation tools to make sure that you have operational insight into your workload and can control the ongoing monthly costs simple by automating hutting down of VMs during off-peak hours. The Azure Management Portal, Powershell, and Azure CLI make this level of automation possible to streamline spending.

Control your storage

Storage costs would grow linearly or exponentially no matter what model you choose (IaaS, PaaS, or a mixture of both). Choosing the right storage account based on performance and replication options is key, as well as being on the lookout for additional charges such as those related to storage transactions (read/write operations). Also, the type of data you consume determines the storage services you use. The right storage service can significantly increase your throughput based on the workload.

Another practical way to keep your storage costs under control is to move your cold storage data to Azure Cool Blob Storage, which is considerably cheaper than its counterparts. Cool Blob storage service is suitable for data archiving, because it is an infrequently accessed dataset. Big factors to consider in regard to storage are IOPS and throughput. Make certain you understand the IOPS nuances for different types of storage and test this approach with tools such as IOMeter and SQLIO to simulate workloads on the Azure platform. It is equally important that you assess your current storage performance with tools like NetApp OnCommand Insight.

Example:

Company XYZ wants to host a VM in Azure with terminal services, user applications, and file share data. Some of the applications such as analytics and relational DBs demand guaranteed high IOPS and therefore need to be hosted on premium storage such as SSD.

A sample configuration for this scenario could be:

  • Create two storage accounts: a premium account with LRS redundancy and a standard account with GRS redundancy.
  • Create a Windows Server Data Center DS2 Standard VM. This configuration would obviously depend on the number of users and your workload, with file shares residing on Azure File Storage in a standard storage account.

Tip: For some virtual machine tiers, you can use storage spaces to combine the IOPS from several disks. Also, you get temporary SSD storage when creating a VM, which can be utilized for things such as Pagefile or SQL TempDB. One way to tackle storage in Azure is to use the concept of managed disks, which overcomes a lot of limitations inherent in storage accounts.

As needs for storage and associated costs increase, it might be a good option to utilize your on-premises storage resources to reduce the cost. A hybrid storage cloud solution is one that combines your on-premises storage infrastructure with a cloud-based one, such as Azure, both to improve storage economies and to provide out-of-the-box solutions to common challenges, such as DR and replication. These solutions can utilize your on-premises storage (NAS or SAN, for instance) and connect them to the Azure cloud storage, forming an extended workplace.

Protect your cloud

Two of the biggest challenges to overcome while adopting public cloud are security and data sovereignty. Because you no longer have complete control over the infrastructure, it is imperative to put a solid strategy to encrypt the at-rest data. Use of Bitlocker Drive Encryption in Windows or DM-Crypt in Linux along with Azure Key Vault can be an excellent starting point in devising this strategy.

Another important technology that helps encrypt data at rest is Azure Storage Service Encryption (SSE), which encrypts the data as it is stored in Resource Manager Storage Accounts. Look for third-party vendors on the Azure marketplace, which can help you close gaps. As in the storage case, this approach not only provides a cost-effective way of utilizing some otherwise expensive appliances, but also protects your on-premises investments through offerings such as BYOL.

Moving your infrastructure to the cloud does not mean you lose control over your networking resources. Determine on how to utilize route tables and User Defined Routes to enforce forced tunneling or use the built-in network security groups and Azure WAF to govern and filter traffic flow. Make use of Azure virtual network gateway to plan and test capabilities, such as site-to-site VPN and Vnet-to-Vnet VPNs, and determine access performance through these tunnels.

When evaluating the overall security of your Azure Resources, it is a good practice to use the Azure Security Center which provides an unified console that helps you verify if the appropriate security controls are in place and take remedial actions wherever necessary. An important aspect of Azure availability is its regions around the globe. Review and understand on how regions use geo-replication to maintain availability and support Azure with its guaranteed 99.9% uptime. It is important to note that not all services are available in all regions.

Make sure that this approach aligns with your company’s RTOs and RPOs. Depending on your environment and availability requirements, you might want to invest in learning and leveraging the following tools, which are key capabilities to consider for your DR and backup needs.

  • Availability sets, which use fault and update domains to make sure of uptime during unplanned and planned maintenance.
  • Guest clustering uses Storage Spaces Direct, providing high-availability and load-balancing features for the workloads inside a VM.
  • ASR and Azure backup, two essential components of OMS, which help make sure that you have an SLA-backed DR strategy and all your data is backed up regularly in redundant storage locations.

Deploy and Manage

After spending considerable time on assessment, planning, and testing out your new environment, you are finally ready to move your workload to Azure. Now you need to think about migrating huge amounts of data to the Azure data centers. Tools such as Azure Storage Explorer and AzCopy can help move data to and from the blob-based Azure storage. Objects such as files and VHD can be easily migrated using these native tools.

Note: Always have a contingency plan and make sure Azure workloads are running according to your plan before you decommission your onpremises infrastructure. Run drill-downs to verify your backup and disaster recovery solutions are also performing as expected.

What if your data is too big to migrate through these conventional tools? Consider using import/export, with which you can ship hard drives with the on-premises data to Azure data centers. In the case of hybrid deployments, use of exclusive networks such as ExpressRoute can significantly reduce transfer time. Azure Site Recovery, already mentioned, is also a good feature to help you move VM-based and physical server workloads to the cloud.

And don’t forget to make use of the SQL Database Migration Tool to move SQL databases from on the premises to the cloud. A tool that can help you in this process is Data Migration Assistant (DMA), which detects compatibility issues and allows you to move data to an Azure SQL database.

Now that you have migrated your workloads to the Azure platform, it is time to evaluate on how well the new infrastructure is running. This evaluation is where the power of Microsoft’s OMS really shines. Its Log Analytics, which gathers insights from your environment and proactively alerts or takes corrective action; Automation, which includes runbooks to automate manual processes and deployment of configuration through PowerShell DSC; and Site Recovery all help provide a complete management and assessment solution. Azure Advisor, a free tool from Microsoft provides recommendations to optimize the availability, performance, security and cost of your Azure resources aligning them with the best practices of Azure.

In addition, several management solutions use one or more OMS products to give you better assessment capabilities such as AD Assessment and Network Performance Monitor. Remember that proactive monitoring and reaction to unplanned incidents, either through human intervention or through automation, can go a long way to maintaining integrity of your cloud environment.

Final notes

Generally speaking, data, just like a planet, has gravity that holds down, or rather determines, the amount of services and applications that use it to function; in return, they are bound to it. As the data grows, so does the complexity of the environment.

The closer an application is to the data, the better the throughput and lower the latency. When you migrate to Azure (or to any other cloud, for that matter), it’s imperative to consider this theory in the assessment phase and beyond and to always be aware of the difficulty level of your own migration process.

If you’ve made the decision to migrate to Azure, you can do so quickly and in a cost-effective way with ONTAP Cloud.

ONTAP Cloud, the leading enterprise storage operating system, is deployed using OnCommand Cloud Manager to deliver secure, proven NFS, CIFS, and iSCSI data management for Azure storage. A software-only storage service running NetApp ONTAP software, ONTAP Cloud combines data control with enterprise-class storage features such as data deduplication and compression to minimize your cloud block storage footprint. You can take Snapshot copies of your data without requiring additional storage or affecting your application’s performance.

Plus, ONTAP Cloud can tie your Azure cloud storage to your data center using the leading NetApp replication protocol, SnapMirror technology. OnCommand Cloud Manager handles deployment and management of ONTAP Cloud, giving you a simple point-and-click environment to manage your storage and ease control of your data.

So that’s how azure migration tool works.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

Which finding from today’s report did you find most interesting? Or maybe you have a question about something that I covered.

Either way, I’d like to hear from you. So go ahead and leave a comment below.

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