Migrating Workloads to Azure: What to Know

No matter the industry you’re in — whether it be law, manufacturing or accounting — you’re going to eventually realize why storing workloads on-premises is no longer a viable option for your business.

Over the years, lawyers, for example, have slowly accepted cloud usage at their firms. Despite security and confidentiality concerns, nearly 54% of attorneys are now using cloud-based services, an increase of four percent over the previous year, according the ABA’s 2018 Cloud Computing Survey.

Most accountants are seeing the benefits of cloud computing, specifically regarding cloud-based accounting software. Fifty-six percent of CPA firms indicated they use cloud-based software, according to a National Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) survey.

As professionals begin to feel more comfortable with cloud in general, the need to shift entire workloads to cloud computing platforms will become more apparent.

To get a head start on cloud migration, understanding why, when and how to transition your data, applications and virtual machines to the cloud can help ensure a smooth migration process.

While there are numerous clouds you can transition your workloads to — including Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud — Microsoft’s Azure is one platform worth contemplating.

Businesses migrate their on-premises workloads to the cloud for many reasons; however, here are a few of the top reasons why businesses migrate to Azure:

  • Cloud computing transforms the cost model from capex to opex. Cloud computing shifts IT spending to a pay-as-you-go model, which means — yes — you pay only for what you use.
  • Mitigate security risks. Businesses are always looking for ways to mitigate risks in an ever-evolving cybersecurity threat landscape. Within a cloud environment, threats are quickly detected and thwarted. A cloud environment’s security policies limits risk exposure. Microsoft also physically protects its data centers with locked badge-entry doors, fences, and guards (does this sound like the protection you have for your data centers?)
  • Need to comply with regulations? Typically, cloud computing platforms can help businesses meet compliance requirements (Azure has more than 90 compliance offerings).

No matter how well prepared you are, migrating on-premises workloads to the cloud can be challenging, especially if you’ve never completed a migration before.

Migrating to Azure — or any cloud computing platform — takes time; there’s no quick, effortless way to work your way through the process.

If you’re unfamiliar with migrating on-premises workloads to Azure, there are several steps to consider before tackling the — oftentimes lengthy — process.

What does the migration process to Azure entail?

Microsoft has switched up its migration recommendations over the years.

Last year, the software giant’s migration process overview included only three steps: discovery, assessment and migrate.

Now, there are four steps to Microsoft’s “cloud migration journey”:

  • Assess
  • Migrate
  • Optimize
  • Secure and Manage

Keeping the software giant’s recommendations in mind will help you with understanding the cloud migration process, which in return will better prepare you for what’s in store.

The assessment

Begin by creating a cloud migration plan.

Determine your cloud migration priorities and objectives before migrating your on-premises workloads to the cloud. Simply do this by first evaluating your current environment.

Along for the ride are your stakeholders (key people within your organization). Involve them when building your cloud migration plan to ascertain how migrating to the cloud could impact them.

When it’s time to migrate

When transitioning to Azure, there are a few migration paths you can take: rehost, refactor, rearchitect and rebuild.

After you’ve determined how you’re going to migrate your on-premises workloads to the cloud — hopefully with the help of a trusted advisor — it’s time to apply your migration strategy.

To expedite the process, Microsoft and its partners offer several cloud migration tools, including Azure Site Recovery, Cloud Endure and Zerto.

How to optimize Azure

You can optimize Microsoft’s cloud computing platform while migrating your workloads.

For example, Azure security and management services — including role-based access control (RBAC), antimalware, multi-factor authentication, ExpressRoute, privileged identity management — enable you to govern and monitor your cloud applications.

Other available tools include Azure Cost Management, Azure Hybrid Benefit and Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances.

Secure and manage your workloads

Even though Microsoft provides a range of security measures for its data centers, there are many business leaders who believe they can do a better job of protecting their own data.

For example, most attorneys (69 percent) don’t see “better security” as being a benefit to cloud computing, according to ABA’s study.

To help alleviate some of these concerns, Microsoft provides services dedicated to protecting and managing your data in the cloud.

For instance, Azure’s Security Center provides unified cloud security management and advanced threat protection.

It’s evident businesses across many markets are becoming more comfortable with cloud computing. As they do, they’ll begin migrating more on-premises workloads to the cloud.

Understanding how transitioning workloads to the cloud — and Azure specifically — can benefit your business and what it entails can better prepare you for when you’re ready to make the shift.