Microsoft Azure: Your Journey to the Cloud

Microsoft Azure

Previous posts in this series have covered A Quick Overview of Azure, Azure Planning Pays, Agreeing Business Objectives, Azure Option Evaluation.

In this post, we examine key considerations in your migration to the cloud.

A Staged Approach

Given the range of options available, as outlined in our previous post, an incremental, staged approach to cloud migration can be adopted. An approach where new cloud software and solutions are implemented over time within the context of a well-defined cloud strategy and action plan.

In our experience, there are three key stages involved in your journey to the cloud: experimentation, migration, and transformation:

  • Experimentation Phase: Two processes take place at the experimental stage. In the first, engineers and others create the IT department’s first cloud applications, with the objective of learning what the cloud is all about, how to develop for it, how to test, how to deploy, how to monitor and maintain a cloud application. Concurrently, businesses and IT departments envision the art of the possible; designing new solutions to demonstrate how to advance the status quo while envisioning a newer, expanded, more agile and better application or service.
  • Migration Phase: This is the most demanding of the three phases during which the bulk of your IT portfolio is moved to the cloud in one form or another. This requires cooperation and collaboration across different enterprise functions, including technical staff, operations staff, the executive team, business sponsors, security professionals, regulatory compliance staff, legal and HR. Getting your cloud team right is critical at this point.
  • Transformation Phase: In this phase (which will often run concurrently with the migration phase), selected applications are redesigned to take maximum advantage of the cloud, using the PaaS model, affording greater scale, greater integration with other cloud services and numerous other advantages. Moving forward, the new cloud-native applications can take advantage of cloud services such as machine learning, big data, streaming analytics and many others, making them much richer in function and feature than before.

Cloud Migration Principles

To support your management of the three stages above, Microsoft have developed five key principles for encouraging an innovative IT mindset, avoiding the trap of becoming too risk-averse. These are shown in Figure 1 and listed below.

Figure 1: Cloud Migration Principles

Cloud Migration Principles

Source: Five Principles of Innovation in the Cloud

  • Go fast: The cloud enables projects to be spun up quickly, which allows you to “try many, use best,” and learn quickly from what doesn’t work.
  • Push the boundaries: IT not only needs to adapt to the cloud, but embrace new architectures and processes, and test limits, including designing “net new” apps and refactoring legacy apps for PaaS and SaaS.
  • Make data-driven decisions: Use the monitoring and analytics capabilities of the cloud to track costs and technical efficiency so you can make smart decisions about which apps are generating the biggest return.
  • Simplify: Retire, consolidate, and right-size as many services and applications as possible to free up resources.
  • Communicate to succeed: Establishing clear, ongoing communication with stakeholders is the single most important factor for successful innovation.

The Five R’s of Modernisation

The Five R’s of Modernisation ontology, first developed by Gartner in 2011, is highly relevant here - retire, replace, retain and wrap, rehost, and reenvision; see Enterprise Cloud Strategy.

It’s likely that no single approach will be appropriate for all of an enterprise’s legacy applications, with a mix of different approaches being warranted based on the value that an application delivers versus the cost of any given approach. Because each approach depends on the situation, application and costs involved, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

  • Retire - if a legacy application is providing little value compared to its costs, the enterprise should consider it a candidate for retirement. When few people are using an application relative to its cost impact, the enterprise should run a cost–benefit analysis to determine if it is worth the expense.
  • Replace - should be used when a legacy application is providing some value, but an off-the-shelf cloud replacement is available with a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
  • Retain, wrap, and expand - if a legacy application is providing good value and not incurring a high TCO, the best approach might be to retain it but putting a modern “wrapper” around it in order to gain additional value and benefits.
  • Rehost - when a legacy application is providing good value but is expensive to run, it might be a candidate for rehosting. Rehosting involves keeping the same basic functionality but moving it to the cloud where it is easier to manage and less expensive to run.
  • Reenvision - if a legacy application is providing good value but cannot be easily moved, the best solution might be to reenvision it and build it again in the cloud using modern technology, a new architecture, and best practices.

Bridgeall Expertise

Bridgeall has been delivering cloud computing solutions to public and private sector clients across the UK for many years. We have established an enviable reputation for service provision, platform excellence and customer service. Our chosen platform is Microsoft Azure, the world's #1 cloud services platform for corporate customers.

Our highly experienced Azure delivery team can help you leverage the full potential of Azure in the following ways:

  • Cloud readiness assessment.
  • ROI calculation service.
  • Design and architecture.
  • Prototypes and proof-of-concepts.
  • Information architecture design.
  • Development & implementation.
  • Operational management services.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like an informal chat about your cloud requirements.