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How to Migrate Applications from On-Premises to Azure: A Guide for VM Sizing, Monitoring, Automation and Cost Optimisation

HOW TO MIGRATE APPLICATIONS FROM ON-PREMISES TO AZURE: A GUIDE FOR VM SIZING, MONITORING, AUTOMATION AND COST OPTIMISATION

Introduction

Are you planning to migrate your applications from on-premises data centers to cloud services such as Azure? If so, you might be wondering how to choose the right size for your virtual machines (VMs), how to monitor and manage your applications in the cloud, how to automate your cloud operations, and how to optimize your cloud costs. In this article, I will provide you with an overview of the steps and best practices for migrating applications to Azure, focusing on the aspects of VM sizing, monitoring, automation and cost optimization. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how to migrate applications from on-premises to Azure and enjoy the benefits of cloud computing.

Migrating applications from on-premises data centers to cloud services such as Azure is a process that can bring many benefits to organizations, such as cost savings, scalability, performance, security, and innovation. However, migrating applications to the cloud also requires careful planning, assessment, and execution to ensure a successful and smooth transition. In this article, I will provide an overview of the steps and best practices for migrating applications from on-premises to Azure, focusing on the aspects of VM sizing, monitoring, automation and cost optimization.

Steps for migrating applications to Azure

The following steps provide a general framework for migrating applications to Azure, based on the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework1:

 

    • Define your strategy: Identify your business drivers, expected outcomes, and success criteria for migrating to the cloud. Align your stakeholders and decision-makers on the vision and scope of the migration project. Assess your current application portfolio and prioritize the applications that are suitable for migration based on their complexity, dependencies, and business value.

    • Plan your migration: Choose the appropriate migration approach for each application, such as rehosting (lift-and-shift), refactoring (modernizing), or rebuilding (rearchitecting). Estimate the costs and benefits of migrating each application, considering factors such as licensing, storage, network, and operational expenses. Design your target cloud architecture and select the Azure services and tools that best fit your needs. Define your migration roadmap and timeline, and assign roles and responsibilities for each task.

    • Prepare your environment: Set up your Azure subscription and resource groups, and configure your network connectivity between your on-premises and cloud environments. Implement security policies and governance practices to ensure compliance and control over your cloud resources. Use Azure Migrate2 to discover and assess your on-premises servers, databases, and applications, and get recommendations for migration readiness and sizing.

VM sizing

One of the key aspects of migrating applications to Azure is choosing the right size for your VMs. VM sizing affects the performance, availability, scalability, and cost of your applications in the cloud. You should consider the following factors when sizing your VMs:

 

    • CPU: The number of CPU cores and the clock speed determine how much processing power your VM has. You should choose a VM size that matches the CPU requirements of your application workload. You can use tools such as Azure Migrate or Azure Monitor to measure the CPU utilization of your on-premises servers and estimate the optimal CPU size for your VMs in Azure.

    • Memory: The amount of RAM determines how much data your VM can store in memory for fast access. You should choose a VM size that provides enough memory for your application workload. You can use tools such as Azure Migrate or Azure Monitor to measure the memory utilization of your on-premises servers and estimate the optimal memory size for your VMs in Azure.

    • Storage: The type and size of storage determine how much data your VM can store on disk and how fast it can access it. You should choose a storage option that meets the capacity, performance, durability, and availability requirements of your application workload. You can use tools such as Azure Migrate or Azure Monitor to measure the disk usage and throughput of your on-premises servers and estimate the optimal storage option for your VMs in Azure.

    • Network: The network bandwidth and latency determine how fast your VM can communicate with other resources in the cloud or on-premises. You should choose a VM size that provides enough network capacity for your application workload. You can use tools such as Azure Migrate or Azure Monitor to measure the network traffic and latency of your on-premises servers and estimate the optimal network option for your VMs in Azure.

Azure offers a wide range of VM sizes9 that cater to different types of workloads, such as general purpose, compute optimized, memory optimized, storage optimized, GPU optimized, high performance computing (HPC), or burstable. You should compare the features and prices of different VM sizes before choosing one that best suits your needs. You can also use the Azure Pricing Calculator10 to estimate the cost of your VMs in Azure.

Monitoring

Monitoring your applications in Azure is essential for ensuring their health, performance, reliability, security, and availability. You can use various Azure services and tools to monitor your applications in the cloud, such as:

 

    • Azure Monitor: Azure Monitor6 is a comprehensive service that collects and analyzes metrics, logs, and traces from your Azure resources and applications. You can use Azure Monitor to visualize and query your data, set up alerts and notifications, create dashboards and reports, and integrate with other tools and services. Azure Monitor helps you troubleshoot issues, optimize performance, and identify trends and patterns in your applications.

    • Azure Application Insights: Azure Application Insights is a service that monitors the performance and usage of your web applications and services. You can use Application Insights to track requests, exceptions, dependencies, page views, users, sessions, and custom events. Application Insights helps you diagnose issues, analyze user behavior, and improve user experience.

    • Azure Log Analytics: Azure Log Analytics is a service that collects and analyzes log data from your Azure resources and applications. You can use Log Analytics to query and explore your data, create custom queries and alerts, and integrate with other services such as Azure Monitor or Azure Sentinel. Log Analytics helps you investigate incidents, detect anomalies, and audit activities in your applications.

    • Azure Service Health: Azure Service Health is a service that provides you with personalized information about the health and status of your Azure resources and services. You can use Service Health to monitor the availability and performance of your resources, get notified of service issues and planned maintenance, and access guidance and support for resolving issues. Service Health helps you minimize the impact of service disruptions on your applications.

Automation

Automation is a key practice for improving the efficiency, consistency, reliability, and security of your applications in Azure. You can use various Azure services and tools to automate tasks and workflows in the cloud, such as:

 

    • Azure Automation: Azure Automation8 is a service that automates cloud management tasks using runbooks or PowerShell scripts. You can use Automation to create, update, configure, or delete Azure resources, run scheduled or event-driven tasks, orchestrate complex workflows across multiple systems, or enforce policies and compliance. Automation helps you reduce manual effort, human error, and operational costs.

    • Azure DevOps: Azure DevOps is a platform that provides a set of tools and services for developing, deploying, testing, and managing applications in the cloud. You can use DevOps to automate the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC), from code to delivery. DevOps helps you improve collaboration, quality, speed, and agility of your applications.

    • Azure Logic Apps: Azure Logic Apps is a service that automates workflows using pre-built connectors and triggers. You can use Logic Apps to integrate data and services across different systems, orchestrate complex business processes, or implement serverless solutions. Logic Apps helps you simplify integration, increase productivity, and enhance scalability of your applications.

    • Azure Functions: Azure Functions is a service that runs code on-demand without provisioning or managing servers. You can use Functions to create event-driven or microservice-based applications that respond to triggers such as HTTP requests, timers, queues, or blobs. Functions helps you reduce infrastructure complexity, optimize resource utilization, and enable rapid development of your applications.

Cost optimization

Cost optimization is a critical aspect of migrating applications to Azure. You can use various Azure services and tools to optimize the cost of your applications in the cloud, such as:

Azure Advisor: Azure Advisor7 is a service that provides personalized recommendations for optimizing your Azure resources based on best practices. You can use Advisor to get suggestions for reducing costs, improving performance, enhancing reliability, strengthening security, or implementing operational excellence. Advisor helps you follow the Microsoft Well-Architected Framework principles for designing high-quality applications in the cloud.

Azure Cost Management + Billing: Azure Cost Management + Billing is a service that helps you monitor and control your Azure spending. You can use Cost Management + Billing to analyze your costs by resource group, service type, location, or tag; set budgets and alerts; forecast future spending; allocate costs across departments or projects; or optimize your reserved instances. Cost Management + Billing helps you increase visibility, accountability, and efficiency of your cloud spending.

Azure Reserved Instances: Azure Reserved Instances are pre-purchased VMs that offer significant discounts compared to pay-as-you-go prices. You can use Reserved Instances to reserve compute capacity for one or three years for predictable workloads that run continuously or frequently. Reserved Instances help you lower your total cost of ownership (TCO), improve budget planning, and reduce capacity risks.

Azure Spot VMs: Azure Spot VMs are VMs that offer up to 90% discount compared to pay-as-you-go prices, but can be evicted at any time by Azure based on capacity demand. You can use Spot VMs to run interruptible or flexible workloads that can tolerate downtime or failures, such as batch processing, testing, or development. Spot VMs help you maximize your cost savings, optimize your resource utilization, and leverage unused capacity in Azure.

Azure Hybrid Benefit: Azure Hybrid Benefit is a licensing benefit that allows you to use your existing Windows Server or SQL Server licenses with Software Assurance or subscription licenses to pay a reduced rate for Azure VMs or Azure SQL Database. You can use Hybrid Benefit to migrate your on-premises workloads to Azure without paying for additional licenses, or to run hybrid scenarios across cloud and on-premises environments. Hybrid Benefit helps you reduce your licensing costs, increase your ROI, and simplify your license management.

Benefits of migrating to cloud

Migrating applications from on-premises data centers to cloud services such as Azure can bring many benefits to organizations, such as:

Cost savings: By migrating to the cloud, you can reduce your capital expenditures (CAPEX) and operational expenditures (OPEX) by paying only for what you use, scaling up or down as needed, and taking advantage of discounts and benefits offered by Azure. You can also save on the costs of maintaining, upgrading, and securing your on-premises infrastructure and software.

Scalability: By migrating to the cloud, you can easily scale your applications to meet changing demand, performance, or availability requirements. You can use Azure services such as Azure Autoscale, Azure Load Balancer, or Azure Service Fabric to automatically adjust the number and size of your resources based on predefined rules or metrics. You can also use Azure services such as Azure Kubernetes Service, Azure App Service, or Azure Functions to create scalable and resilient microservice-based applications.

Performance: By migrating to the cloud, you can improve the performance of your applications by leveraging the global network and infrastructure of Azure. You can use Azure services such as Azure CDN, Azure Traffic Manager, or Azure ExpressRoute to deliver your content faster and more reliably to your users around the world. You can also use Azure services such as Azure Cache for Redis, Azure Cosmos DB, or Azure SQL Database Hyperscale to store and access your data with low latency and high throughput.

Security: By migrating to the cloud, you can enhance the security of your applications by using the built-in security features and best practices of Azure. You can use Azure services such as Azure Security Center, Azure Sentinel, or Azure Key Vault to protect your resources from threats, monitor and respond to incidents, and manage your encryption keys and secrets. You can also use Azure services such as Azure Active Directory, Azure Firewall, or Azure VPN Gateway to secure your identity and access management, network traffic, and connectivity.

Innovation: By migrating to the cloud, you can accelerate the innovation of your applications by using the cutting-edge technologies and capabilities of Azure. You can use Azure services such as Azure Machine Learning, Azure Cognitive Services, or Azure IoT Hub to add artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), or internet of things (IoT) features to your applications. You can also use Azure services such as GitHub, Visual Studio Code, or Visual Studio Online to streamline your development, collaboration, and deployment processes.

Conclusion

Migrating applications from on-premises data centers to cloud services such as Azure is a strategic decision that can bring many benefits to organizations. However, migrating applications to the cloud also requires careful planning, assessment, and execution to ensure a successful and smooth transition. In this article, I have provided an overview of the steps and best practices for migrating applications to Azure, focusing on the aspects of VM sizing, monitoring, automation and cost optimization. I hope this article has been helpful for you in understanding how to migrate applications from on-premises to Azure. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for reading! 😊

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References:

1. global.hitachi-solutions.com2. learn.microsoft.com3. learn.microsoft.com4. bluexp.netapp.com5. azure.microsoft.com6. azure.microsoft.com7. cloud.google.com8. techcommunity.microsoft.com9. learn.microsoft.com10. learn.microsoft.com