Migrating to Azure using a Hybrid Cloud model: Much more than a migration from a local data center.

Migrating to Azure using a Hybrid Cloud model: Much more than a migration from a local data center.

According to studies by Gartner, by 2025 80% of companies will close their traditional data centers because of the increase in the supply of Cloud services, interconnection services, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Edge services. However, this change won’t happen overnight, but is rather an evolution where the way in which services are provided to customers and to business mutates.

Migration to the Cloud–one of the main disruptive technologies–is at the core of any organization’s digital transformation strategy. Continuing to support legacy systems in parallel to a Cloud solution creates a hybrid IT infrastructure, but that model entails several challenges: eliminating silos and integrating processes, managing data between different systems, determining which workloads to migrate, creating a governance and security model that is regulation-compliant, and continuing to deal with shadow IT. If these aspects are resolved efficiently, the benefits may be significant: more speed, flexibility, agility and resistance.

Organizations need to recognize that a hybrid IT infrastructure is rapidly becoming the standard and that the function of the traditional data center will be relegated to hosting and administrating legacy systems or providing very specific services that, for reasons of regulation or market, cannot be supported anywhere else.

Migration to the Azure Cloud could seem relatively simple to a trained server administrator, but the Cloud technology is basically different from the administration of a local data center. The lack of skills and certifications can translate, among other things, into an incomplete understanding of the Azure operating or billing model, which may install unnecessary obstacles that can rapidly discredit a promising project. For this reason, a structured method is required to migrate to the Cloud that involves three big phases: Evaluation, Migration and Optimization.

The evaluation phase is needed to understand the actual situation of the computer platform, assessing applications and servers, identifying the dependence between applications and servers, analyzing the information and configurations to guarantee that each work load works properly in the Cloud; and lastly, to evaluate the costs associated with operating in the Cloud.

The second phase of migration will identify what will be migrated to the Cloud, define the Cloud migration method and the tools to be used to implement it. There are several strategies to migrate applications to the Cloud since it is likely that there will be no single strategy appropriate for all applications. For example, the lift and shift strategy proposes a migration “as is” from the actual infrastructure to IaaS on the Cloud. The lift, tinker and shift strategy consists of migrating with minor optimizations to the Cloud, such as migrating BD or web applications to a PaaS in order to achieve tangible advantages without having to modify the architecture; the drop and shop strategy migrates to a new application or tool, typically an SaaS option (such as from an on-Premise CRM to MS Dynamics); a refactoring/redesign strategy implies a new design of applications to take advantage of native possibilities in the public Cloud, such as migrating a monolithic application to a service-based architecture; the removal strategy discontinues the use of obsolete and significantly unused applications, with the consequent resource savings; and finally, the retain strategy consists of maintaining actual architecture without any changes for the time being.

By way of example, a typical lift and shift migration replicates the great majority of the infrastructure in the Cloud to complete a migration in a few weeks. After the migration ends, applications and services can be redesigned to make a better use of the Azure technology.

Lastly, the Optimization phase is the obvious step after implementing the migration strategy and it is intended to maximize the benefits offered by the Cloud in terms of performance, scalability and costs. Applications must be modernized, there must be a migration to PaaS or SaaS models, and security, data protection and Cloud monitoring services must be activated, in addition to taking advantage of all automation tools.

For Azure migrations to be effective, it is essential to join forces with a service provider certified for Microsoft Cloud who not only has experience in Cloud migration, but also has the capacity to offer integral Azure services, transfer all the cumulative experience in previous migration projects and incorporate the best practices for an efficient and secure management of Cloud services.

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