How a Cloud Migration Assessment Will Help Avoid Mistakes

Rehosting to Azure can bring incredible improvements to infrastructure agility, scalability, and performance, as we discussed in the previous article in this series on cloud migration.

But Azure is a complex platform, and rehosting isn’t as simple as spinning up a few VMs, copying data, and calling it a day. Cloud migration projects often run into challenges that stretch lead times and cause costs to skyrocket.

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the problems businesses run into when migrating to Azure and how a cloud migration assessment can help them to avoid common mistakes.

When Rehosting to the Cloud Goes Wrong

Rehosting is the most straightforward type of cloud migration. Often called “lift-and-shift,” it involves recreating existing on-premises infrastructure on Azure without refactoring applications or rearchitecting infrastructure.

Nevertheless, without due care, there are plenty of ways that a lift-and-shift migration could go awry:

  • Unexpected costs. It pays to have an understanding of Azure and its cost structure before launching infrastructure.
  • Over- and under-provisioning. Azure allows a user to deploy as much or as little infrastructure as they ask for, which is both powerful and potentially risky.
  • Unexpected downtime. A well-managed cloud migration needn’t cause any downtime, but a badly managed migration can cause applications and services to be unavailable for extended periods.
  • Security vulnerabilities. Azure is packed with enterprise-grade security features including secure networks, security monitoring, firewalls, and layered security architecture. However, it is possible for a poorly planned cloud migration to leave a business wide open to data breaches and compliance failures.

These pitfalls and others can be avoided with advanced planning and an understanding of the tools Azure provides to streamline migration.

Creating an Azure Cloud Migration Assessment

The goal of a cloud migration assessment is to establish what the migration is expected to achieve, the best way to achieve it, and to identify potential stumbling blocks.

An assessment provides a blueprint that can be used to work out the cost of the migration and which Azure infrastructure should be deployed to meet the needs of the applications that will be migrated.

A cloud migration assessment should aim to answer the following questions:

Which applications will be migrated, and do they have dependencies?

The purpose of this question is to identify the applications to be migrated and any other applications or services they depend on. It’s particularly important to identify service dependencies — databases, storage servers, message queue services, and so on — that may also need to be migrated to Azure.

After answering this question, the business should possess a comprehensive breakdown of the applications that will be migrated and the infrastructure on which they depend.

What data will be migrated, and what are the security implications?

Azure provides rock-solid security. The underlying infrastructure is almost certainly more secure than the infrastructure businesses are migrating from. But Azure won’t stop a user from doing something foolish, such as leaving sensitive data unencrypted in an internet-accessible database.

It does, however, provide the tools users need to keep their data safe. Understanding the security and privacy implications of moving data to a new platform will help you to choose the right Azure services and security configurations.

Who should be consulted during cloud migration planning?

A cloud migration is typically lead by a business’s IT department and third-party partners, but it affects other business departments too. Professionals use applications and services throughout a business, and they may have relevant insights.

Which Azure infrastructure best fits the needs of the migrating applications?

Because you have developed a comprehensive map of their legacy infrastructure and the applications it hosts, it is now possible to identify the required Azure infrastructure and to begin to formulate a migration plan.

How much will the Azure infrastructure cost?

Now that the business has a preliminary Azure cloud infrastructure assessment, it can use Azure’s Total Cost of Ownership Calculator to develop a cost estimate.

In the next article in our series on Rehosting to Azure, we’ll look at best practices for building a cloud migration strategy, including some of the tools Microsoft provides to smooth the path to a successful migration.

At VIAcode, we help businesses to avoid the hidden crevasses that can slow their journey to a successful migration to Azure. We have guided hundreds of businesses on that journey, and we know where the hidden dangers lie.

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