Migrations to Microsoft Azure are becoming more and more common since organizations start to understand the added value that Microsoft Azure (even Public Cloud in general) can offer. However, starting to understand and really understanding are two different things which provides some challenges when starting the journey. Fortunately, guys like myself are here to help organizations with this journey doing it the ‘right’ way.
Typical reasons to migrate to Microsoft Azure may be the following (but may not be limited to):
- Modernization of IT;
- Hardware used has reached end-of-life;
- Data-room or data-center closure;
- Tired of doing/managing this stuff yourself;
- Evolving the IT organization from an administrative department to a directive one. This is more or less a goal and not an incentive.
Before starting the assessment, many organizations fall into a few potential pitfalls that would partly or completely defeat the potential that Microsoft Azure can offer:
- Ignoring your current processes and fail to evolve them for the new world (“We would like to keep working we’re used to”);
- Apply on-premises architecture behavior. For example, using network appliances, concepts like VLANs and their tagging, proxies, patching using WSUS. For God’s sake, Azure has some really neat PaaS alternatives that can do it all for you including some nice reporting features;
- Look for best practice. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as a ‘best practice’. However, we do have ‘recommended practice’ that can be applied to a particular scenario;
- Do everything overnight or ‘big bang’ approaches. Trust me, it won’t work and you’ll end up in a world of hurt. Start small and take small steps;
- Think Microsoft will do everything for you. No, they won’t according to the Shared Responsibility for Cloud Services;
- Look at infrastructure only. No, you may need to look at applications as well. I get chills in my spine when I’m asked to migrate an Exchange environment to Azure (seriously?);
- Think of Azure as just another data-center. Yes, we will do ‘lift and shift’, pick up our junk and move it to Azure and expect the same results
- Looking at cost alone and ignore the benefits. If you fall into these pitfalls then Azure will definitely be more expensive, especially when you don’t reconsider. But that’s not Microsoft’s fault.
Based on current experience with my current and previous job most organizations are in a bit of a hurry so the option most chosen to migrate is ‘lift and shift’. It allows me to do a SWOT analysis to determine which gives me the following.
Strengths (may not be limited to):
- Granular per-system movement of functionality from current environment to Microsoft Azure VMs;
- Microsoft-only approach, no dependencies;
- Secure communications during replication;
- Test scenarios prior to migrating;
- Fast and easy to plan migration;
- Very minimal downtime;
- Easy rollback;
- Easy decommissioning of existing resources.
Weaknesses (may not be limited to):
- Skills needed for Microsoft Azure Site Recovery Services (ASR);
- Machine being migrated may require downtime to verify actual state;
- On-premises infrastructure requirements for converting VMware virtual machines;
- Azure virtual machine limitations may apply (i.e. disk size);
- Administrative effort may be required to verify sizing;
- Possible data loss during rollback when a large time frame is in place.
Opportunities (may not be limited to):
- Identify deprecated machines, do not migrate them;
- Potential short path from Azure IaaS to Azure PaaS;
- Administrative effort can be re-evaluated after migration.
Threats (may not be limited to):
- Systems running Windows Server 2008 R2 will reach End of Support on January 14, 2020 (extended support available after migration);
- Current processes and resource allocation;
- No urgency to move from costly IaaS deployment to optimized PaaS deployment within Azure;
- Additional services are still required after migration to manage servers.
So, once all that is out of the way I can start with the assessment.
For the sake of this post, I want to migrate my Image Building environment based on the setup described at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/deployment/deploy-windows-mdt/create-a-windows-10-reference-image. Here’s an overview of my setup:
- A single Hyper-V host;
- A Domain Controller VM (Gen2) with 1 CPU, 4 GB RAM and a 127 GB OS disk named DC01;
- A MDT VM (Gen2) with 1 CPU, 4 GB RAM, a 127 GB OS disk and a 512 GB data disk named IB01.
The environment is isolated so no incoming or outgoing network traffic.
Telemetry data is not available.
Let’s do the assessment the WRONG way:
OK so we need two servers. let’s jump to the Azure Pricing Calculator available at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/ and get some numbers.
- VM size: F2S at € 126,82
- OS Disk: P10 at € 18,28
- VM size: F2S at € 126,82
- OS Disk: P10 at € 18,28
- Data disk: P20 at € 67,92
If add up the numbers then the estimated cost for this environment, then the estimated monthly cost would be € 358,12 per month, or € 4297.44 per year. What does this number tell me? Absolutely nothing, maybe a bit on the expensive side. But this is what happens when no optimizations are considered.
The result is a poor adoption of Microsoft Azure which makes customers unhappy and put the blame to Microsoft and their partners.
Now let’s do the assessment the CORRECT way:
Instead of doing the assessment ourselves, we can use tools. Microsoft allows organizations run their assessment with Azure Migrate which will do a big part of the assessment for us. And it’s free 🙂
What Azure Migrate can do you is available at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/migrate/migrate-services-overview
In order to run the assessment certain steps need to be taken which are available in the overview so I don’t need to write it all down. So how does it look like after running it for a while?
Let’s go the Azure Migrate workspace first.
Let’s open the Assessments pane.
We see a single assessment, let’s open it.
So, we have an overview here. It displays the Server Readiness and the Monthly Cost Estimate, that’s pretty cool. It looks like my assessment generated some warnings so let’s take a look at that first.
Well, that’s nice. The assessment recommends a cheaper VM size and cheaper disk type than estimated in the ‘wrong’ scenario. Let’s have a look at IB01 and get some details.
Here’s the upper half. Despite the warning the VM is eligible for ‘lift and shift’.
And here’s the lower half. Here we can see which disks are identified and recommended to be used. Apparently, I don’t need Premium SSD storage so i don’t need to bother paying for it.
Talking about cost, here’s the cost estimate for both machines.
Well, here you go. Nicely specified. Based on this assessment, the total cost per month would be € 157,23 per month or € 1886,76 per year. Wow, less than half of the ‘wrong’ assessment. I may have some room for more when considering the B series VM as well.
Setting up Azure Migrate takes one or two days depending on availability. However, it is worth the effort and allows a much better discussion with organizations when they want to consider migrating to the cloud.
Keep in mind that ‘lift and shift’ may NOT be the best approach (it isn’t most of the time), so you may need to consider other options as well. However, this is a good place to start. It also helps me keeping out of monasteries because doing these ‘wrong’ estimates is a crap job to do, especially when large environments need to be assessed. It is a very time and energy consuming exercise and requires me to retreat to a monastery to do the job with as little distraction as possible. Since most of my customers are enterprise organizations, I can imagine you have a pretty good idea how crap this job may be.
Final thought: As with most things in life, I have no solution to combat bad behavior…