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Azure Migration

11-Step Azure Migration Checklist

Cloud migration is a project that can incur high cost and risk but can also prove to be highly advantageous. In this article, we’ll see how Microsoft recommends a four-step process for migrating applications and workloads to Azure. We’ll also provide a complete checklist for the Azure migration process, including Azure migration prerequisites, assessment stage, and migration stage.

Besides the important 11-step Azure migration checklist, in this post you will learn:

5 Reasons Organizations Migrate to the Cloud

Cloud migration is a large undertaking that can have a high cost and risk, but also high rewards. Here are some of the common drivers for moving applications and workloads to the cloud:

    1. Saving in operating costs—the cloud reduces the need for hardware support and in-house IT management.
    2. Faster time to market—cloud platforms make development and deployment cycles easier and more automated, helping you get new features to market faster.
    3. Scalability and utilization—on-premise systems were traditionally built for peak loads, and most of the time were utilizing less than 20% of their capacity. In the cloud, you can consume the hardware resources you actually need in each period.
    4. Reducing upfront costs for new projects—the cloud is priced in a pay-as-you-go model, so there is no need for upfront investment in hardware and license costs.
    5. Application modernization—the cloud can help you modernize development and operations processes, become more agile and efficient and provide more value to customers.

How Do I Migrate an Application to Azure?

If you need to migrate an application to Azure, you can follow a four-step process recommended by Microsoft. The stages are:

  • Assess—discuss the migration with relevant stakeholders, calculate TCO and discover which applications can benefit from migration.
  • Migrate—select a migration strategy (Rehost, Refactor, Rearchitect, Rebuild—see a detailed discussion in our AWS Migration guide), identify the tools that can help you carry out the migration, and make the move.
  • Optimize—continuously monitor the application when it starts running on the cloud, and see how to improve it.
  • Secure and Manage—day-to-day operations with a special focus on security and data protection.

Azure Migration: The Complete Checklist

Before you can carry out an Azure migration, take a look at this 11-step Azure migration checklist. Here you’ll find each of the vital steps that you need to take in preparation for and while undergoing your migration to the Azure cloud.

# Item What To Do Azure Tools
1 Training Ensure teams have the knowledge they need to migrate applications and operate them in the cloud. Microsoft Learn offers learning paths for each job role, including brief learning modules, labs and assessments to test knowledge.

Microsoft Learn

2 Identity Ensure users can authenticate themselves to access the new cloud resources. If you use Active Directory, you can move your existing user data to Azure Active Directory. In the case of hybrid deployments, ensure seamless access to on-premises and cloud-based resources.

Azure Active Directory

3 Networking In the cloud, you can use a single subnet across your entire virtual data center. However, if you want to retain the structure of subnets you had on-premises, to ease migration and avoid application refactoring, you can do so with Azure Virtual Network.

Azure Virtual Network

4 Data Transfer During a migration you will transfer huge amounts of data. Even after migration is complete, there will still be significant communication with your on-premise data center or other locations, especially in a hybrid scenario. Azure provides solutions such as ExpressRoute, a private uplink from your data center to the cloud.

(and more)

5 Storage Move the data from your on-premise network attached storage (NAS) or storage area network (SAN) to an Azure storage service.

Azure Blobs
Azure Files
(and more)


Assessment Stage

# Item What To Do Azure Tools
6 Assessing on-premise applications

You might be running a large number of on-premise servers and endpoints. Even if you have a clear inventory of your on-premise deployment, you may not be able to feed its data to the next stages of migration. Azure Migrate can perform an automated assessment and prepare the next stages of migration.

Azure Migrate

7 Application dependencies

Map dependencies and communications between your servers and applications, so you can define them as a single entity for costing, configuration planning and actual migration.

Azure Application Insights

8 Configuration analysis

Analyze configurations and ensure they will function correctly on the cloud. Are there OS or hardware dependencies? Identify which workloads can move to Azure as is, which will need modification and which are incompatible.

Azure Application Insights

9 Cost Planning

Typically, on-premises resources are under-utilized. Carefully plan your cloud deployment to ensure you are using the optimal number of Azure VMs to run your actual workloads. Aim to drive VMs to 90% utilization.

Azure Migrate

Migration Stage 

# Item What To Do Azure Tools
10 Testing

Start your Azure VMs in an isolated environment that mimics the cloud production environment. This will allow for testing of the application without affecting on-premise or cloud production systems. Azure migration tools can set this up for you, and switch off the on-premise systems and switch DNS to new cloud systems.

Azure Site Recovery

11 Real Time Replication

During migration, you will set up a copy of the workload in the cloud and perform asynchronous replication with the on-premise copy. You may also use replication to connect groups of VMs in the cloud. Most migration tools let you define a replication time frame between 30 seconds and 15 minutes, depending on your bandwidth and latency.

Azure Site Recovery


Faster Data Replication with NetApp

SnapMirror is used by NetApp customers to replicate data between their on-premises NetApp storage appliances and cloud storage. SnapMirror helps users with complex deployments, including the rollout of an Azure disaster recovery copy or synchronizing data between distinct Azure VMs or regions.

For non-NetApp users, the NetApp Cloud Sync service will transfer and synchronize files securely and efficiently between on-premises NFS or SMB/ CIFS file shares, Azure Blob, Amazon S3, AWS EFS, Google Cloud Storage, IBM Cloud Object Storage or NetApp StorageGRID®.

Summary: Step-By-Step Migration to Azure

Microsoft Azure provides extensive tooling to assess, plan and execute a migration to the cloud.
The process starts from preparing basic building blocks - training for your staff, facilities for identity and authentication, data transfer to the cloud and cloud-based storage.
In the assessment stage, you map out on-premise applications, servers and endpoints, their dependencies and configuration, and plan the sizing and cost of the projected Azure deployment.

Finally, in the migration stage, you set up your application in the Azure cloud, test it, and perform the data replication between the current on-premise application and the cloud version, until you are ready to switch over.
In each of these stages, you can leverage NetApp products to perform faster, more reliable data transfer and replication between on-premises and cloud facilities.

Blazing Fast Data Transfer and Hybrid Storage with NetApp

As you can see from the Azure migration checklist above, there are a lot of moving parts to an Azure migration. NetApp has a solution to help you manage all of them—NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP®.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP is an enterprise storage management platform for Azure as well as AWS and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP software supports various use cases, such as Azure database deployment, Azure backup and disaster recovery, Kubernetes and more, with hundreds of enterprise customers worldwide.

NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP is used to smoothly migrate enterprise workloads to the cloud. For a lift and shift migration involving data stored on NetApp ONTAP appliances, use Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s SnapMirror®. For data stored elsewhere, use NetApp Cloud Sync service.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides data management capabilities, including automated data replication and synchronization, rapid data clone creation, and data protection that uses NetApp’s Snapshot™ technology. It has storage efficiency features, including thin provisioning, data compression and deduplication, as well as automated storage tiering, so you can save on cloud storage costs. The high availability option ensures that your application is always accessible to users with non-disruptive failover and failback processes.

NetApp BlueXP classification is a tool that can automatically discover, map, classify, and act on enterprise data. For companies planning migrations, these capabilities help to identify private data that need protection, and pinpoint duplicate and stale data so you can carry out clean migration.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager