Tips for a Hassle-Free Azure Data Migration

June 19th, 2018
Amol DalviSenior Director, Product

Whoever coined the phrase “getting there is half the fun” never had to worry about moving tons of data around.

That’s because, even among IT professionals, there are often concerns that migrating several servers and applications to different data clouds is the last thing from fun, and instead can be a messy and tedious process. General unknowns can include security, costs, the amount of downtime required, the amount and types of items that need to be migrated, overall storage space, and general integrity of your info.

These sorts of problems/opportunities are thankfully addressed by Microsoft Azure, which provides virtual machine and various enterprise tools. Among other features, Azure allows users to add or remove virtual machines as needed, whether for short-term solutions or to create longer-term cloud storage.

Azure Tools

Azure offers a variety of tools to safely and securely help customers with the migration process, including Azure Active Directory and Security Center, which help with data and security needs, and Azure SQL Database, which helps maintain database integrity.

There is also a variety of third-party add-ons available, like Nerdio for Azure, which can help further customize and simplify your migration experience, so before long you’ll be on the road to saving money by not having to invest in more hardware and related operational costs. You will also be lowering your risks, improving your employee/customer access, and generally having a more responsive and better organized system.

podcasting

Of course, people who have been around the IT landscape know that as easy as that all sounds, there is some degree of effort and organization required to get to the migration point and beyond; although, Microsoft Azure has certainly made things easier with a series of webinars that walk users through the process and other online tools to help companies create a plan of attack for before, during and after the migration process.

One especially useful newer free tool is called Azure Migrate, which assists users in the planning and visualization process for migration followed by tools for the actual migration.

Plan Ahead

A smooth migration can be assisted by smart planning and preparation. This should start by properly inventorying and cataloging your entire network, including any applications or workloads, and deciding what items need to migrate and what can stay.

For instance, some organizations may prefer that any especially critical financial or proprietary items remain on a separate in-house server for security purposes.  

This process also provides an opportunity to make sure any applications are up to date, are fully supported, and will be fully compatible with whatever virtual machines will be created.

Tools like Microsoft’s Virtual Machine Readiness Assessment and the Microsoft Assessment Toolkit can assist in inspecting existing virtual or physical environments, including current infrastructure, network architecture/capacity, and general performance requirements.

Microsoft Azure allows users to create test environments to simulate how the system will run once migration is complete. This can have the added bonus of helping anticipate – and perhaps even reduce – any downtime for each migration step. Although some disruptions may still take place, being able to address compatibility prior to migration can go a long way. Possible disruptions can also be a good way to test how much redundancy is in place to prevent critical failures.

As you assess and inventory, you can compare current networks to what virtual networks you’ll likely need for databases, subnet and DNS servers.

A service called Azure Site Recovery also can be used to help migrate any Linux workloads or VMware-virtualized Windows Servers.  

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Migration

Generally, successful migration shouldn’t be thought of as the conclusion of a process, although getting to this point of organization is certainly an accomplishment for not just an IT team but an entire company.

Instead, successful migration should really be considered the beginning of a process of improvement and efficiency, including customized features and a fully mapped network configuration.

 If you’ve been using Azure Migrate, you’ve hopefully been able to map out your configuration and then perform the migration with a few steps.  

Assessing storage needs can be a useful part of this exercise but also need to include an estimate of how often users will be accessing certain areas. Costs may be higher for ‘hotter’ storage areas that will require more regular activity, while ‘cooler’ areas will be accessed less often so they may not cost as much. Choosing a ‘mid-temperature’ area might be a good starting place until you have a chance to see complete activity after the full migration.

Related to anticipating the level of storage activity, can also estimate frequency of use and resource demand for your apps or database requests. These can be adjusted by a program called Azure Autoscale.

For instance, you may have different demands during the day or the evening, different users wanting to use different features, or certain occasions where higher demand is needed and more virtual machines must be created. This saves money by not having all of these programs in use and in high demand all day long.

Overall, by using Azure Migrate, you’ll receive assistance in organizing your entire system, including grouping similar applications and estimating resource needs for memory, processing, databases and more. Furthermore, products like Nerdio will provide even more resources, including backup automation and performance monitoring.