Moving an organization’s computing needs to a cloud solution is exciting and often revolutionary for an organization. Azure is usually a game-changer for companies, especially those looking to add layers of security, improve productivity and flexibility. But, just like any other major organizational change, migrating to an Azure platform takes strategy. The business and technological benefits of a successful cloud transfer are huge – agility, cost, assurance, etc., but the damage of a failed move is huge as well - impaired scalability, loss of data, business interruption, etc.
The most important thing to do when migrating to Azure is not underestimating the importance of planning. Here are the top ten challenges a business may face during migration, and if not addressed or planned for, can cause the migration to fail.
1. Define Criteria
You should set priorities within your migration plan based on a combination of business factors – like the hardware you use, and other technical factors. Your team should work together to help establish a priority listing that is widely agreed upon. For sequencing the migration of your workloads, you should begin with less-complex projects and gradually increase the complexity after the less-complex projects have been migrated. You can start by identifying and migrating a handful of basic application servers to Azure. This initial experience helps the customer better understand Azure, and how administering and managing workloads works. It's also an opportunity for you to gain confidence in the reliability and dependability of Azure. The customer can extend the process of performing their usual, day-to-day tasks with workloads that have been moved to Azure in the cloud.
2. Dealing with Mental Shift
The most common challenge at the center of Azure migrations comes from misunderstanding the differences between applications hosted on the cloud and traditional local deployments. The project engineer who is managing the migration needs to understand the differences of Azure as a cloud platform – Like any new technology, the cloud comes with a whole new set of terms, acronyms, and abbreviations. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand the different forms of cloud computing in order to make the right decisions about how to use it.
3. Virtual Machine Conversion & Transfer
Typically, Azure migrations will have to account for a number of existing virtual machines. Azure is a great choice for VM hosting and has wide compatibility with VMs, but it’s still very important to verify compatibility for each VM meant for migration because Microsoft only supports certain Windows Operating Systems and Linux Operating Systems to run as a VM in Azure. Not only does the OS need to be taken into consideration, but the server software as well. Microsoft has a support policy for running Microsoft server software in the Microsoft Azure virtual machine (infrastructure-as-a-service).
4. Provisioning enough Local Bandwidth
One issue that is often overlooked during the migration is how much bandwidth provisioning will be needed. This is especially important if a hybrid cloud solution will be used because there will be a lot of traffic running between the locally hosted systems and remote cloud elements. An engineer that specializes in Azure Migration services would be useful in this case to calculate the cost-benefit that these bandwidth needs will create.
5. Fall Back Planning
It is unlikely that major data loss or application errors will occur due to the migration, however, it’s always important to have a back-up plan in case.
6. Existing Dependencies
Dependencies should be considered when migrating applications to the cloud. There are various connection configurations that may be invalidated by the move and so these should be determined before taking the plunge to prevent service interruptions. A good way to organize this is to create a well-attributed catalog of applications managed by IT. Then, the relative importance of each attribute (say, business criticality or amount of system integration) can be weighted and the prioritized list can be built.
7. Common Database Migration Problems
Many enterprise applications depend on external databases in order to function. It is possible to migrate applications to Azure while hosting the database in-house but moving the database itself to Azure has many benefits. However, it is very important to identify compatibility issues between Azure storage and the existing application storage. Incompatibilities with supported commands or variable types are possible where the source database was originally created with now obsolete versions of database software. Converting the database without a loss of fidelity or function often requires changes to applications and the services of database specialists prior to moving to Azure.
8. Security Issues
Security is always a concern with anything involving infrastructure and software in a business. Using secure protocols at the application level is good enough depending on the specific use case, but the creation and implementation of a virtual private network with end-to-end encryption is a solution that everyone should consider. It’s necessary to analyze your current network and prepare your intranet for cloud services. It can also be valuable to invest in core capabilities within your organization that lead to secure environments:
9. Managing & Monitoring Applications
Wherever your applications are hosted, you need to have the right processes in place in order to manage those applications effectively. Before you deploy to a production environment in the cloud you will need to ensure that you know what service level agreements you need and what your capacity planning strategy is. How will billing work? Where will the data for application monitoring go? Who can provision new services?
10. Allow Time for User Training
You must develop competencies with cloud technologies and services even as those services evolve and change. Before the migration, you should be prepared for training on Azure so your employees will feel comfortable and confident with the new technology. A great way to do this is to schedule an Azure Customer Immersion Experience, where your technical and development teams can get a feel for how things will work post-migration.
Even though Azure migrations are not extremely difficult, underestimating the process and planning can really backfire. With these 10 checkpoints in mind, you can feel better about undergoing a successful migration. Our last recommendation is to consult with trusted digitalization experts, and don't blindly accept one-size-fits-all migration strategies. Each company environment is different, and each migration will have different things to consider. Interlink’s consultants have the knowledge and experience working with these migrations – contact us today for a free consultation.