Azure Migration Services: Unleashing Business Agility in the Cloud
Experience customized Microsoft Azure migrations tailored to accelerate your business growth and maximize operational efficiency.
Lift and Shift & Modernize
Migrating to Azure involves navigating a series of critical business and technical decisions. The shift in infrastructure often initiates with organizations taking an arguably simplistic approach, where they decide to, “just migrate what we have, and we’ll modernize it later.” While this approach might serve as a functional solution for some applications and their associated data, it often culminates in underwhelming outcomes and elevates the risks on multiple fronts.
Increased costs due to inefficient resource utilization, amplified security vulnerabilities from outdated systems, and heightened organizational frustration due to the complexity of managing legacy systems in a cloud environment are some of the potential risks associated with this approach. Thus, a careful and systematic evaluation of what to migrate, when and how to modernize it, is crucial for a successful and smooth transition.
Are you considering Azure Migrations and interested in the streamlined transition it offers for your business operations? Engage with an Agile IT expert...
Tailoring Your Azure Migration: Embracing a Custom Approach for Application-specific Strategies
When considering a migration, there are certain best practices to be followed. These recommendations are not necessarily one-size-fits-all solutions; rather, they should be thoughtfully considered on an application-by-application basis, rather than being applied uniformly to each server or the entire server environment. It is important to understand that every application is unique, with its own set of dependencies, and therefore requires a bespoke strategy for migration and modernization.
Here are some general guidelines of what you could and shouldn’t do. This should be considered per application and not necessarily per server or the entire server environment:
Some applications and services don’t support migrating or lack benefits from a migration (e.g. local Windows Active Directory, SQL Server)
Migrate As Is
Applications that can’t be supported by Azure platform services or Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) Applications that are no longer supported and require specialized installations
Migrate & Minor Modernization
Applications as is, but using platform services such as Azure SQL
Custom web applications that are running on supported platforms that can quickly benefit from Azure App Services
Applications that perform limited actions that could be moved to Microsoft Power Platform or Azure platform services (e.g. Logic Apps, Azure Functions, etc.)
Extending Your Existing Infrastructure
You do not have to choose between your datacenter and the cloud. Azure easily integrates with your existing IT environment through the largest network of secure private connections, hybrid database and storage solutions, and data residency and encryption features. Working with other Microsoft software and services such as Windows Server, SQL Server, and SharePoint.
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Transition Local Active Directory to Azure and Mitigate Local Issues
Organizations can benefit from having a replica of Local Azure Active Directory in Azure to both support migrating applications to Azure and reduce the risk of a local outage
AgileAscend: Onboarding Microsoft Azure for Microsoft 365
Organizations migrating to Microsoft 365 (includes Office 365) are often looking to maximize their transition to cloud services. For organizations that may already have an Active Directory environment on-premises or adding that in with their migration, deploying those services in Microsoft Azure meets their desired future state of cloud-focused deployment.
Agile IT ensures that the deployment of Microsoft Azure meets the best practices defined by Microsoft and leverages both a well-defined process by Agile IT and automation services developed by Agile IT. The following will be deployed and validated by Agile IT for the customer:
Manage Local Servers with all the benefits of Azure Services
Regardless of whether you’re planning to migrate to Azure or not, there can be huge benefits to leveraging Azure services. Servers can be migrated from on-premises, in Co-Location datacenters, or even another Cloud Provider such as Google Cloud Platform or Amazon Web Services.
In any of these cases, having a centralized view of all servers in and outside of Azure reduces risks that could lead to security vulnerabilities from a lack of consistent management. This is also critical for any compliance requirements; especially when auditing is required.
AgileAscend: Onboarding Azure Hybrid Infrastructure
Configuration of data collection to integrate with the Azure Sentinel Security Event Information Management (SIEM) also increases the availability of event information that is critical to detecting and hunting threats across your systems including desktops, servers in Azure, and servers elsewhere.
This will enable support for Windows and Linux-based servers and does NOT require site-to-site VPN’s or networking configuration!
AgileAscend: Onboarding Azure Hybrid Windows Domain Controller
Once the core services to support Hybrid management via Azure are established, the next step (if applicable) is to deploy and configure Defender on all the Domain Controllers in your local Windows Azure Active Directory environment.
- Configuration in Azure to support data capture and events coming from local Domain Controllers to Azure
- Customer will do the deployment via Group Policy or script with guidance from Agile IT
AgileAscend: Onboarding Azure Hybrid Windows Member Server
- Configuration in Azure to support data capture and events coming from Windows based servers to Azure
- Customer will do the deployment via Group Policy or script with guidance from Agile IT
- AgileAscend: Onboarding Azure Windows Virtual Desktop (Azure Government)
- Consultative and engineering focused engagement to ensure rollout of
Reducing Your Existing Local Infrastructure
Organizations that still require Local Windows Active Directory, but desire to reduce the on-premises server and application footprint and leverage Azure services.
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Migrate Application Servers to Azure
In this scenario, customers often have Line of Business (LOB) applications deployed on a server that are incapable of being modernized. In this situation, an “as is” migration of a Virtual Machine to Azure is the objective.
AgileAscend: Assessment & Planning for Migration to Azure
Assessing the existing server environment is critical to ensure the performance, security, availability, cost management, and operations of the end-state to meet the business objectives. Understanding the technical dependencies is a major activity, such as the following (but not the total list):
- Who and how do people or other systems connect to it?
- What other services does it connect to (e.g. Databases, internal or external API’s)
- Are there static internal/external DNS records and any static IP or routing used to connect to it?
- How is the application installed, updated, backed up and restored?
- What are the current performance metrics and what’s the expected metrics over the next 12 months?
- Are there any service accounts used for any connects to, within, and to connect out?
- How are any service accounts and passwords stored and rotated?
- How do users, services, and the application authenticate today (e.g. local Active Directory, SAML, AD FS)
AgileAscend: Onboarding Azure for Applications (Foundation)
Before deploying or migrating any services into Azure, it is important to start with a policy-based environment that supports the billing, administration, and management required going forward. While this could be done later, it often requires more work, and frequently requires changes to, an environment you worked hard at building up the first time.
Agile IT will provide Strategy and Planning guidance important to the overall business, then transition to more technical planning, deployment, and guidance for governance and management.
This is based on the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF), which provides guidance based on best practices from Microsoft, partners, and customers, with tailoring from Agile IT:
- Strategy: Define business justification and expected adoption outcomes.
- Plan: Align actionable adoption plans to business outcomes.
- Ready: Prepare your cloud environment for planned changes.
- Migrate: Migrate and modernize existing workloads.
- Innovate: Develop new cloud-native or hybrid solutions.
- Secure: Improve security over time.
- Manage: Manage operations for cloud and hybrid solutions.
- Govern: Govern your environment and workloads.
- Organize: Align the teams and roles supporting your organization’s cloud adoption efforts.
AgileAscend: Virtual Server Migration
The actual server migration targets the following starting points and more:
- Physical Operating System (OS)
- Virtual Machine (VM)
- Virtual Machine in non-Azure cloud provider (E.g., Amazon Web Services)
- Azure Virtual Machine
a. Moving from another Entra ID (Azure AD)/Azure Subscription (Merger/Acquisition or Divestiturb)
b. Moving between Azure datacenters
c. Moving to an Azure Government subscription
Frequently, the actual migration process, once ready, is the easy part and typically leverages Azure Migrate and/or Azure Restore Services. However, ensuring the destination is scoped correctly to meet cost expectations, security, compliance, and management needs is crucial. The following are a few examples:
- Virtual machine type and size
- Disks (e.g., Premium Managed Disks)
- Backup policies
- Security within the VM and configured in Azure
- Networking (routing, port availability)
Finally, the configuration of the Virtual Machine often requires updates to the configuration within the OS and applications to adjust for the changes in the networking, connections to file and data services, and more.
AgileAscend: Virtual Server Deployment
Building out a new Virtual Machine is straight forward to do in Azure, however creating them without a plan often costs too much, doesn’t perform well, and is difficult to manage.
Deployment of a new Virtual Machine can be for a new service, but it also can be to support an application or Windows Server role that is better to deploy clean versus migrate.
One example is a new Local Active Directory Domain Controller. This can be to retire one locally or within Azure. Local AD domain controllers do not migrate well, rather work best as a new deployment since they are all multi-masters.
Another case is deploying a Virtual Machine for an application that doesn’t migrate well (often required by the application vendor), and a new or updated installation, coupled with migration of the data, is preferred.
If the Azure SQL service is not ideal in your case, there are methods to deploy a new Virtual Machine with the SQL edition needed already installed, or installed post Operating System deployment. This can then support a migration of the SQL Database when ready.
AgileAscend: Onboarding Azure SQL
Migration of an application often necessitates the migration of a transactional database such as a Microsoft SQL Server Database. Microsoft SQL Servers are not generally an ideal candidate for a simple Virtual Machine migration like other applications.
One route is to deploy Azure SQL as a Service, which provides various deployment options that can improve cost management, scalability, and performance while reducing operational costs (e.g., patch management and backups)
This service from Agile IT provides the initial assessment and guidance to support customers in their migration of one or more databases to Azure SQL. Many customers often have many databases on one or more Microsoft SQL Server instances running on physical or virtual servers in their environment. When migrating to Azure SQL, there is an opportunity to target each database to a different type of Azure SQL instance to meet optimal cost, performance, and management requirements.
AgileAscend: Migrating to Azure SQL
Based on having a strong Azure foundation ready and the target Azure SQL instances configured to meet the needs of the actual database, the last portion is to migrate.
Migrating the SQL database is typically not a one-time activity as there is a need to test the migration process in your environment, validate connectivity from an application already in, or moving to, Azure, and for organizational communication, if required, to ensure end-users, customers, and partners understand any possible downtime (often required by changes to the application and/or transactional performance).
This isn’t just for software developers, and it doesn’t mean the IT organization must make major changes. Application Modernization should be the first approach considered for each application and virtual machine an organization is looking to migrate into Azure. While there are often many topics to consider, it can create significant improvements for the organization, IT, developers, and users.
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Migrate applications to Azure
Starting with a focus of migrating applications to Azure is the ideal starting point. This is in contrast to “migrate servers to Azure” which isn’t wrong, but puts too much focus on the virtual machine.
AgileAscend: Assessment, Strategy, and Guidance for Applications moving to Azure
While the Agile IT service “AgileAscend: Assessment & Planning for Migration to Azure” has some overlap of this service, this objective requires greater collaboration with the customer’s development team, external vendors (if applicable), and IT infrastructure team.
This includes a deeper dive and collaboration with the customers identity architects (if available) and developers (internal or external) to review their deployment, identity integration, service accounts, API’s used, developer stack, and much more.
Based on the results of the engagement, the customer will have awareness of the capabilities within Azure best suited to their applications, have specific areas in their code identified that may need to be updated, and have an approach to deploying their services based on the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework.
As a follow up, the customer can also leverage the previously described “AgileAscend: Onboarding Azure for Applications (Foundation)” from Agile IT.
For some applications, there may be a need to keep the current application architecture but still move directly into Azure. For those, please reference the earlier sections on this page named, “Migrate Application Servers to Azure”