Cloud service providers like Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) offer companies safe, convenient, and efficient storage services for all their needs. However, each of these providers is different, and you must consider factors like pricing, data accessibility, and data loss during transfers to choose the best for you. AWS has been around much longer than Azure. But, in recent years, Azure has made major advancements into space and now offers better services. This explains why most companies choose to migrate their SaaS applications to Microsoft Azure. This article outlines why Azure is better for SaaS hosting, the different migration strategies you can use, and a step-by-step guide to moving to Azure from AWS or Google (GCP).
Why Azure for SaaS Application Hosting?
Even though AWS is considered the leader in the cloud market, Azure is rapidly becoming everyone’s favorite, especially those who are already into Microsoft products. Here’s why Azure is getting more preference among companies.
Stronger PaaS Capabilities
Both AWS and Azure provide an environment for developing and deploying apps within the cloud. This capability is important for developers as they can work within the cloud. While AWS can offer PaaS services, Microsoft Azure provides developers with stronger PaaS capabilities such that they have access to the complete infrastructure needed to build and deploy apps. This infrastructure includes development tools, middleware, database management systems, business intelligence services, etc. Azure’s PaaS takes away the expense of sourcing software licenses and other development tools. Thus, allowing a developer to build, test, deploy, manage and update applications within the cloud.
Compatibility With the .NET Framework
Microsoft’s .NET framework allows programmers to create applications that run on Windows. Azure’s compatibility with the framework gives it an advantage over AWS. Enterprises that use Windows apps designed in the .NET programming framework find it convenient to use Azure as it is easy to move these apps to their cloud service. This is unlike the complicated process involved in moving such apps when using other cloud service providers like AWS.
Azure’s design is founded on the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) assurance process that ensures compliance with the best development practices. These practices are constantly updated to match up with cloud security requirements. Having gained approval from the European Union data protection authorities as a first cloud vendor, Microsoft stands out for best security among other vendors. It also operates under the new International Standard for Privacy (ISO 27018), thus guaranteeing the best security for data and other cloud services.
Hybrid Cloud Solutions
Azure’s hybrid cloud provides a mixed-up environment for all public, private, and on-premises infrastructure services. AWS is yet to incorporate hybrid cloud solutions in its services, giving Azure the upper hand in the cloud market. Better still, Azure’s hybrid apps are easily developed on the cloud using the available development tools and infrastructure. This allows more hybrid connections for better performance on Azure.
Integrated Environments Within SaaS Applications
Azure allows integration with other frameworks that a client might choose in order to create a flexible environment for the development and deployment of cloud apps. This integration can leverage readymade services like APIs, templates, mobile, web, and other media to fuel application development processes on Azure.
Familiarity With SaaS Applications
Unlike AWS, the Azure cloud is easy to learn as it utilizes common models and technology frameworks that are already in use in other areas. These include virtual machines, Windows, Linux, and Active Directory. That means you don’t need hundreds of troubleshooting tactics or how-to guides to get started on Azure. Also, Azure has multiple tools like Hadoop and Eclipse to make operations easier. The best part is that Azure allows third-party apps from its partners such that you can get them from the Azure marketplace.
Azure Migration Strategies for SaaS Applications
Microsoft advises that you use any of these four migration strategies when migrating your SaaS applications to Azure. They include Rehost, Refactor, Rearchitect, and Rebuild.
Rehost/Lift and Shift
This strategy involves moving applications without making any changes to the underlying application. You simply move everything as it is. It’s the least expensive and the easiest migration strategy and is mostly preferred by enterprises with limited Azure skills. This strategy presents a smaller risk of breaking the app when moving it and is best for a legacy migration. On the other hand, some applications may not work well with Azure’s resources. Thus, limiting your app’s ability to extend or scale up.
You can make minor changes to the code so that you can take full advantage of Azure’s services like Azure SQL Database Managed Instances and Azure Container Service. It’s a fast and easy strategy that can improve your application’s infrastructure without disrupting its functionality. On the other hand, the app may not be too efficient on the cloud since you have not made any major architectural changes. However, it’s a great strategy for critical applications where a major change can compromise the app’s functionality.
This strategy involves redesigning the application’s codebase to fit into Azure’s native architecture. It’s suitable for SaaS applications that need maximum scalability on Azure Cloud, but they are still using systems that limit them or are not supported by Azure. Once you rework the codebase, the application becomes resilient and highly scalable, such that it’s able to leverage all the resources available on the Azure cloud. On the other hand, this strategy is complex, expensive, and faced with a high risk of service disruption due to possible faults.
Rebuilding means ditching the old application and creating a new application on the Azure cloud using its PaaS capabilities. It allows you to utilize modern development methods to create an application similar to the old one and erase any chance of hitches. This means that the application will be independent of middleware and other external infrastructure built on Azure using Azure PaaS capabilities. On the other hand, the costs are high, and you may lose some functionalities of the app, especially those parts that cannot be built on Azure.
Two Ways to Move From Amazon (AWS) or Google (GCP) to Azure
You can migrate from Amazon Web Services in two ways:
- Using Azure Migrate
- Using Azure Site Recovery
Microsoft recommends using Azure Migrate for server migration as it has a centralized hub for discovery assessment and migration. Azure Site Recovery is best used for disaster recovery. Here’s a step-by-step process for each of them.
How to Move From AWS to Azure Using Azure Migrate
Step 1 – Assess
Perform a VM discovery and set up an assessment that can help estimate any potential run costs and prepare for migration. You’ll also get to weigh the cloud’s suitability to your apps and any possible changes you might need to make for the apps to work well. You can also consider things like networking, scalability, and storage before you can start migrating.
Step 2 – Migrate
Choose a suitable strategy that works for you and identify the different tools that will aid your migration. Consider your reasons for moving to Azure and use that to determine how much value you want to get from the migration.
Step 3 – Optimize
Once you have moved into the Azure cloud, keep an eye on the functionality of the apps and the running costs. Find ways to optimize them to meet all your goals for the migration. While at it, consider ways that can help you scale up and gain new capabilities on the powerful Azure cloud.
Step 4 – Secure and Manage
Ensure that you have employed all the available security measures so that your applications enjoy the highest security provided by Azure. Take advantage of tools created to make your work easier through automation and improving data protection.
How to Move from AWS to Azure Using Azure Site Recovery
Step 1 – Set up Azure Site Recovery
After creating an Azure account, you should set up an Azure Site Recovery to guide your migration from AWS. You’ll need to define a protection goal, identify a source and target, adjust replication settings, and enable replication.
Step 2 – Set up an Azure Process Server
The Azure process server receives replication data when an Amazon EC2 deploys, optimizes it, and sends it. Before starting the migration process, ensure that the process server is registered with the ASR configuration server.
Step 3 – Deploy EC2 Instances for Replication Into Azure
Discover all the EC2 instances you want to move to Azure using their private IP addresses. Then, deploy them into the process server. The replication process may take some time, depending on the size of the EC2 instances.
Step 4 – Perform a Failover Action on the Replicated Instances
The failover action migrates the applications to Azure. Once they are all migrated, you can delete the original EC2 instances on AWS and disable the Azure Site Recovery. And that’s it!
Need Help Migrating SaaS Applications to Azure?
Agile IT has a team of dedicated developers and automation specialists focused on implementing best practices for cloud-based SaaS development in Azure and holds over 15 Gold Competencies, including DevOps and Cloud Infrastructure. Request a free consultation to find out how we can ease your move to Azure.