Azure Migration Strategy: A Checklist to Get Started

By now, you’ve heard it many times and from many sources: cloud technology is the future of IT. If your organization isn’t already running critical workloads on a cloud platform (and, if your career isn’t cloud-focused), you’re running the very real risk of being overtaken by nimbler competitors. Cloud enables the consumption of technology services with reduced infrastructural overhead.

We’ve moved from the age of cloud denial (it wasn’t long ago that cloud was dismissed as a passing fad) to cloud inevitability when everyone is singing the praises of AWS, Azure, and GCP. Despite this progress, there’s a very large gap between enthusiasm and execution, between talking about how fantastic cloud platforms are and actually relocating your workloads. Focusing on Azure, let’s take a look at some of the key considerations and best practices that should be foremost in your mind as you move forward.

Create a Cloud Center of Excellence CCoE

Finding champions across the organization—beyond IT and from the business—who can help remove barriers and push past inertia.

The AWS article, Key Findings from Cloud Leaders: Why a Cloud Center of Excellence Matters, describes a CCoE as:
“…a cross-functional team of people responsible for developing and managing the cloud strategy, governance, and best practices that the rest of the organization can leverage to transform the business using the cloud. The CCoE leads the organization as a whole in cloud adoption, migration, and operations. It may also be called a Cloud Competency Center, Cloud Capability Center, or Cloud Knowledge Center.”
Read on the full article Why a Cloud Center of Excellence Matters here.

The message is clear: cloud transformation efforts cannot be turned into Yet Another IT Project. The focus shouldn’t be on technology alone but on the entire business and the people (and workflows) that help you serve your customers.

Assess your current environment

The key to successfully identifying appropriate projects

Enterprise IT environments are complex. It’s not unusual for important elements of an organization’s technology portfolio to be a mystery to all but a few people. And even high-profile platforms often support (or create) dependencies that aren’t fully understood.

Before you begin your cloud journey, it’s vital to have a full understanding of your current situation. This is so important (indeed, fundamental) to success that Microsoft details current state analysis (or discovery) as the first stage of migration.

Azure Migration Workflow

Start your Azure Migration in three easy steps
Before you can move forward, you have to know where you are. Make discovery of your on-premises resources your first job. There are a variety of tools that can help, including the Azure Migrate service.

Use security best practices from the beginning

Understand Azure security best practices and build your solutions with those in mind from the start.

Security shouldn’t be an afterthought. Although Microsoft ensures the security of the Azure platform, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your Azure tenant, and the solutions you build, are properly protected.

This is why it’s essential you understand Azure Role Based Access Control (RBAC) to control access to the Azure portal. Use Azure AD as the identity and access management platform for your applications and solutions and employ Azure Security Center to protect your cloud assets from threats.

RBAC overview
Role-Based Access Control
Azure AD Use Case
Windows Server Active Directory
Azure Security Center example
Microsoft Azure Security Center
A security-focused mindset is essential to the ongoing success of your cloud efforts.

So, let’s review:

  • Create a Cloud Center of Excellence: Build a team composed of people from across the enterprise who represent the full business and develop a training strategy.
  • Assess and understand your current environment: Know where you are to move to where you want to be.
  • Make security second nature: Secure access to the Azure portal, use Azure AD as your identity and access management solution, and employ the Azure Security Center to protect your cloud assets.

If you follow this checklist, you’ll go a long way towards increasing your odds of success when moving to Azure.

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