The global operations landscape is dynamic due to factors like volatile markets, inflation, shifting consumer preferences, and intense competition. Cloud technology, thus, becomes a boon for business leaders to navigate easily through the challenging landscape of international operations — empowering them to increase efficiency and position themselves as a leading player in the industry.

And, among the numerous cloud providers, Microsoft Azure stands out as a leading platform for cloud migration, offering a comprehensive suite of tools and services to facilitate seamless transitions.

The Cloud Migration Imperative

Undertaking cloud migration yields a range of benefits for businesses, including agility, cost-cutting, driving new revenue, improving resilience, and the list continues. Additionally, the cloud migration initiative could be an opportunity for businesses to leapfrog their peers that might be relying on legacy systems.

According to PwC’s Cloud Business Survey, 78% of responding companies have adopted the cloud in most or all parts of their businesses. They reported fewer barriers to realizing value and are expecting to see continued revenue growth of 15% or greater.

However, migrating to the cloud is not a simple process, and your team can have a bumpy ride if you don’t plan beforehand. Unpleasant surprises like disrupted workflows, unexpected expenses, and user resistance might be on the horizon if an organization has unrealistic expectations about long-term and short-term results or doesn’t thoroughly prepare for the move to the cloud.

Tips to Streamline Cloud Migration Initiative

Listed below are the tried and tested tips to streamline a cloud migration initiative and ensure it yields the expected results and ROI. Take a look:

  1. Ensure Your Company is Actually Prepared for the Cloud: Analyzing the company’s readiness for cloud-enabled business transformation is the first step. A comprehensive evaluation would involve the assessment of six important areas including business, people, governance, platform, security, and operations. This yields dual benefits in terms of a seamless workload migration and realization of desired business outcomes.
  2. Be Clear with Your Objectives: It is important to define cloud migration objectives, which could include cutting down on costs, increasing productivity and efficiency, strengthening security, etc. After defining the objectives, specify the technological approach and migration schedule. Gather the necessary skills and resources, develop security protocols, adopt cloud-native architecture, and continuously monitor and optimize performance.
  3. Create an Extensive Application Portfolio: Build an extensive application profile that distinguishes between in-house and cloud-bound apps as a priority. This confirms cloud readiness including hidden back-end dependencies, supports business continuity, ensures infrastructure control, and disaster recovery planning. Encourage cross-functional collaboration early and embrace change management as well as meticulous planning to avoid pitfalls. Remember, proper planning prevents poor performance.
  4. Choosing the Right Migration Approach: After a thorough assessment of the existing IT landscape and defining key objectives, it’s now time to develop a tailored migration strategy. The various migration approaches include:
    • Rehosting (Lift-and-Shift) – This involves moving applications to Azure with minimal changes. It is ideal for organizations seeking a quick migration.
    • Refactoring – This strategy comprises modifying applications to better suit the Azure environment. It offers improved performance but requires more effort.
    • Rearchitecting – For complex applications, rearchitecting involves a complete overhaul to leverage Azure’s advanced features.
    • Rebuilding – In some cases, rebuilding applications from scratch using Azure services is the most beneficial approach.

    The best approach depends on your specific business needs, technical considerations, and desired level of agility in the cloud. And if there’s still any confusion, Azure migration consulting services can help.

  5. Putting the Plan into Action: Once your migration strategy is solidified, it’s time to execute the plan. Azure cloud migration services offer a range of tools to facilitate the migration process itself, some of which are listed below:
    • Azure Migrate – This central hub allows you to orchestrate the migration of servers, databases, and web applications. It provides features for agentless discovery, dependency mapping, and server replication for efficient migration.
    • Azure Database Migration Service – This service simplifies the migration of databases to Azure SQL Database, Azure Managed Instance for SQL Server, or Azure Synapse Analytics.
    • Third-Party Tools – Microsoft’s open ecosystem allows for integration with various third-party migration tools, providing additional flexibility and customization options.

    By leveraging these robust tools, you can migrate your workloads to the cloud efficiently, minimizing downtime and disruption to your business operations.

  6. Follow a Top-Down Strategy: Optimize your product’s top-down, start-to-end functionality and wait to handle local improvements. Before you begin your migration, identify your nonfunctional key performance indicators (KPIs) such as cost, security, stability, scalability, performance, and so on, and rely on your Azure cloud provider to design a cloud-optimized architecture for your tech stack. Set realistic deadlines and ask the ‘build versus why’ question once a week.
  7. Identify Opportunities for Cost Optimization: Your workloads don’t stop moving to Azure once the migration process is complete. Continuous optimization is essential to ensure that you’re getting the most out of the cloud in terms of efficiency and affordability. Azure offers several cost-management solutions, such as Azure Billing and Cost Management. By providing you with information about how you’re using cloud resources, these tools let you find areas where costs can be saved. Furthermore, Azure provides a range of pricing options, including pay-as-you-go, where you only pay for the resources availed.
  8. Think About How Migration Impacts Your Workforce: Avoid the mistake of taking cloud migration as merely an IT undertaking. Instead, the entire workforce should be considered, as this would affect the entire firm. Additionally, find answers to questions like – how will cloud migration impact security, productivity, and user experience. And, if this Azure cloud migration move is effectively communicated to employees, customers, and stakeholders?
  9. Bake in Security and Privacy Controls: Incorporate privacy and security measures while your migration process is being designed and developed. Adding security controls as an afterthought is usually costlier and less effective. Additionally, ensuring you are aware of the chosen Azure cloud service provider’s shared responsibility model is an important part of the security-by-design process.
  10. Seize the Chance to Enhance Your Data Hygiene: Know your data first. For unstructured data, it is advised to first employ discovery and classification when deciding ‘where’ and ‘how’ to migrate it based on data sensitivity and business value. A significant portion of business data is unstructured, which is growing at a rate of 50% annually and 35% is considered stale. Remember, migrating offers a chance to lower risks and expenses while enhancing data hygiene.

Pro Tip – Focus on ‘Why’ Rather Than ‘How’

Keep your focus on moving from chaos to clarity. Understand your current data ecosystem rather than just lifting and shifting on-premise data. Identifying existing silos helps reduce unnecessary complexity, normalize data, and migrate only the most relevant and accurate data. In simple words, pay more attention to the ‘why’ than the ‘how.’ This not only democratizes data, but also lets your team access actionable insights.

Taking the First Step Towards an Agile and Secure Future

Migrating to Azure is a transformative journey that offers significant benefits, from cost savings to enhanced performance and scalability. However, a successful transition requires a strategic approach, leveraging the expertise of professional Azure migration services. By meticulously planning, selecting the right migration strategy, ensuring data and application integrity, and optimizing the new environment, your organization can ensure a smooth transition.

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