6 steps to help getting started with Microsoft Azure

Ross MacKenzie
Tags: Microsoft Microsoft Azure

Azure is Microsoft’s continually evolving and growing set of cloud services, created to enable organisations to “build, manage and deploy applications on a massive, global network” while using “favourite tools and frameworks” (Microsoft).

And for any business looking to refresh their IT infrastructure, we believe that Microsoft Azure offers the foremost cloud platform for delivering modern business IT solutions.

We’ve put together six steps to look at if you’re considering a move to the cloud and Microsoft Azure, and which will take you through from initial goal planning to defining requirements for ongoing management.

Step 1: Define your goals for the cloud

The first step is to make sure you have clearly defined aims for moving to the cloud.   

For example, a main reason may be to save money, through moving IT costs from a capital expense (CAPEX) to an operating expense (OPEX).

However, with Azure, there are many other benefits on offer – such as arising from its flexibility, the faster development and deployment opportunities, and the ability to make use of AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning capabilities.   

Step 2: Create an effective cloud migration plan:

The second step we advise, is to create a migration plan which aligns what you want to achieve from a move to the cloud and Azure with your business objectives. Part of this process will be to identify the various workloads to be moved, ordered in relation to the impact a move to Azure will have on the business.  

Cobweb tip: Cobweb’s Cloud Discovery Package can help with your planning. The package incorporates:

  • A review of your existing on-premises applications, systems and infrastructure
  • A review of any pain points and concerns, carried out in the context of your future plans and goals
  • The collation, analysis and evaluation of collected data, performance and workload metrics, so that we can create a detailed cloud discovery report and roadmap.

Step 3: Assess compliance and regulatory requirements

Depending on your industry sector, you may be governed by specific compliance and regulatory requirements as well as those covering organisations generally.

Cobweb tip: It’s worth listing all compliance and regulatory requirements at the outset, to ensure that nothing is overlooked at a later stage, and the requirements comprise an integral part of your plan.

Step 4: Evaluate potential financial return

Calculate the cost of moving each workload to the cloud, and the ongoing cost of keeping it running in the cloud.

Cobweb tip: The Cobweb team can help with calculating workload costs, and can advise on other budgeting areas in order to optimise spend. As an example, if you’re able to forecast spend, we can help you save up to 80 percent through investing in Azure VM Reserved Instances for a one or three year term.

Step 5: Define a cloud identity and security strategy

With cyber-threats on the increase, and 81 percent of breaches due to identity theft (source: Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report 2018), defining an identity and security strategy is essential – and bearing in mind that a weak strategy will give insufficient protection, while too stringent a policy will hinder productivity by blocking legitimate access.

Cobweb tip: Cobweb’s professional services offer an Azure Identity and Access Management service to support the creation of an effective identity and security strategy.

Step 6: Follow Microsoft’s four stage migration programme

Microsoft promotes a four stage programme to follow when moving to the cloud and Azure:

Assess: carry out an in-depth assessment of existing on-premises apps, data and infrastructure, mapping dependencies across applications, and determine a priority list for cloud migration.

Migrate: utilise powerful migration tools to carry out the migration, automating the migration journey and minimising any downtime.

Optimise: streamline the cloud resources, and follow an ongoing monitoring programme to ensure optimum application performance, maximise ROI, and continue to adhere to compliance and regulatory requiements.

Manage: ensure the applications continue to be protected and proactive management is in place after migration.

Cobweb tip: Cobweb’s Azure experts are experienced in the delivery of projects using Microsoft’s four-stage migration programme, and which incorporates a premier management and support service to ensure customers are using Azure to its full potential.


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