How to Optimize and Manage an Azure Cloud Migration

 
13 min read

Even a successful cloud migration will need monitoring, patching, cost optimization and support for the new cloud workloads.

 

TOP 3 THINGS TO DO:

Here are 3 top tips to optimize and manage your new Azure Cloud Workload

  1. Learn how to understand, forecast, and optimize costs
  2. Use best practices for Azure resource management
  3. Automate using Infrastructure as Code

 

1. Optimizing the Cost of an Azure Subscription

With the pay-as-you-go nature of cloud services, there are many ways to overspend, even when being careful. A common fear many businesses have when it comes to migrating to the Azure Cloud is the fear of runaway spending. This is where Microsoft Cloud Partners play a critical role, both prior to and after an Azure Migration – by helping businesses understand, manage, and optimize their spend.

Azure workloads are always optimized from design and deployment when you trust your cloud migration to the Microsoft Azure Cloud Experts at 360 Visibility. But, sometimes working with other partners or doing it yourself may not provide the optimized results you need.

By analyzing application performance and cloud spend, and by taking advantage of new Azure features, we help businesses optimize their spend over time. Additionally, we can help make sense of your Azure billing (attribute spend by projects, departments, teams, applications, or cost centers), consolidate bills, provide Azure Credits, and allow self-service purchase of Reserved Instances.

Spending money on an Azure service that is not needed will cause you to rethink your strategy. There are critical areas of expertise both from a reporting and Azure feature set that business will expect their Azure cloud partner to provide or include as a part of their migration to Azure.

KEY CUSTOMER CHALLENGES

  • Understanding current cloud spend and forecasting future spend
  • Gaining the most value from cloud spend
  • Guarding against unexpected costs
  • Optimizing deployments for cloud efficiency

 

Azure Cost Management

EFFECTIVE COST MANAGEMENT STARTS WITH UNDERSTANDING THE COSTS, AT A GRANULAR LEVEL.

As businesses accelerate cloud adoption, they are finding that it’s getting more difficult to manage cloud spend across the organization. In a recent survey, managing cloud spend was listed as a challenge by 76% of respondents, second only to security (source: RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud Report).

To effectively control and optimize costs, visibility into your IT environment and the ability to optimize your deployment to reduce costs is needed. And when dealing with multiple applications, cost transparency is needed to break down costs across each of those applications.

That’s why there are Microsoft tools for visualizing and optimizing a customer’s IT environment costs—on premises, on Azure, or in a hybrid deployment. Azure Cost Management is an Azure service designed to help understand and manage cloud spend. It supports cost analysis, forecasting, budgets, and alerting. It also provides cost optimization recommendations.

VISIBILITY

Azure Cost Management provides a view into the costs of the Azure cloud environment. These reports can be analyzed on the subscription or resource group level. They can also be aggregated across subscriptions in a team or department.

OPTIMIZATION (RIGHT-SIZING)

An important aspect to any cloud deployment is ensuring that the right resources are being used for the job at hand. Azure Cost Management can help identify opportunities to consolidate workflows running on multiple, under-utilized resources, or spin up additional resources when one is no longer enough to handle workloads.

MONITORING AND ALERTING

Monitoring usage and spending is critically important for cloud infrastructures because organizations pay for the resources they consume over time. When usage exceeds agreement thresholds, unexpected cost overages can quickly occur.

TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Prior to moving to the cloud, most IT departments don’t have a true idea of what their services cost. Often the IT department is seen as overhead to a business or even a black hole that is difficult to understand. With the cloud, this model is turned up-side down, as IT can now see the exact cost of each and every resource.

 

Pre-Purchasing Azure Cloud

A move to the cloud is a shift in mindset for businesses with respect to purchasing their technology. Traditionally, they have purchased hardware and software upfront using capital expenditures with no ongoing commitment to the platforms they have chosen beyond support. With a migration to the cloud this relationship changes, due to the pay-as-you-go nature of the cloud.

Customers are going to be seeking information about how the transition will impact their budget and their existing investments. In addition, they will require input into strategies for saving on a long-term commitment to Azure as their cloud platform.

Pre-purchasing Azure is a great way to manage those costs and make the most out of every dollar that is spent on the platform.

 

Automatic Shutdown of VMs

ONE OF THE MOST ATTRACTIVE ATTRIBUTES OF THE CLOUD IS THE PAY-AS-YOU-GO NATURE OF THE SERVICES. TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE BY ONLY USING RESOURCES WHEN NEEDED.

In many environments, there are times of day when certain services aren’t needed and thus there is no reason for them to be running. This is particularly true of Azure Virtual Machines, which can be shut down and later re-started with no loss of data.

Non-production Cloud servers need to be online only when employees are actively working on them. In some cases, non-production environments can be turned off, or de-allocated, over 70 percent of the time, which translates into a direct 70 percent cost reduction.

Understanding which virtual machines only provide useful service during certain hours of a workday or even days of the week is critical to maximizing the potential savings.

 

Optimized Architecture

THE CHOICE OF APPLICATION ARCHITECTURE CAN HAVE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON RUNNING COSTS. INCORPORATING COST AS A DESIGN GOAL CAN RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT SAVINGS.

A common problem that affects organizations when they initially move resources into the cloud is their virtualization strategy. They often use an approach like the one used when creating virtual machines for the on-premises virtualization environment. And, they assume that costs are reduced by moving their on-premises VMs to the cloud, without any thought to changing how it is deployed and the resources (CPU & RAM), that are assigned. However, this approach is not likely to reduce costs.

The problem with this approach is that the existing on-premises infrastructure was already paid for. Users could create and keep large VMs running if they liked—idle or not and with little consequence. Moving large or idle VMs to the cloud is likely to increase costs. Cost allocation for resources is important when customers enter into agreements with cloud service providers.

Using the features of Azure with a new mindset is required to gain efficiencies from the cloud, and not end up with additional costs by moving. There are features in Azure which allow for autoscaling of compute infrastructures and thus, when coupled with the pay-as-you-go model, can provide for the savings your business desires. These strategies often have the added benefit of high-availably given that they scale the compute out and in instead of up and down. This means more nodes provide the service rather than one larger node providing the service.

Moving to a PaaS platform for services is also a common strategy to change the architecture of a service and gain cost savings. Web applications that were traditionally running on VMs in your datacenter can now be moved to the Azure App Service and will run just as today, but with much less overhead in terms of cost and management responsibility.

 

2. Azure Management Best Practices

THERE ARE SEVERAL BEST PRACTICES THAT SHOULD BE ADHERED TO WHEN MIGRATING OR OPERATING ANY WORKLOAD IN AZURE. FOLLOWING THESE ESTABLISHED PATTERNS HELPS AVOID COMMON PITFALLS AND MAKES IT EASIER TO MAINTAIN DEPLOYMENTS IN THE LONG TERM.

Often, new Azure deployments start off as an experiment from a learning exercise or a proof of concept that was converted into a production workload. When these ad-hoc type deployments occur, it is easy to get started on the wrong foot and implement anti-patterns accidently.

 

AZURE SUBSCRIPTIONS

An Azure subscription is the most fundamental entity used to organize Azure resources.

RESOURCE ORGANIZATION

Consistent naming and tagging schemes help organize Azure resources, making management easier and reducing mistakes.

CONTROLLING ACCESS TO AZURE RESOURCES

With great power, comes great responsibility. Just as the cloud allows services to be provisioned in minutes, critical services can just as easily be changed or deleted. Fortunately, Azure provides comprehensive features to control access without losing agility.

SECURITY AND COMPLIANCE

Security is a critical requirement for cloud applications. Applications cannot be migrated to Azure unless there is a high degree of confidence in the security of the migrated application and all application data. A strong security stance and deep security skills are therefore essential for any successful Azure Cloud Migration.

 

3. Infrastructure as Code

AUTOMATE INFRASTRUCTURE DEPLOYMENT AND MANAGEMENT THROUGH DECLARATIVE OR IMPERATIVE SCRIPTS.

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is the process of writing scripts to automate the deployment and configurations management of infrastructure. Using automation to manage your infrastructure enables you to:

  • Increase accuracy and reliability of resource deployment and configuration.
  • Automate the process of replicating environment configurations across dev, test, and production environments.
  • Add version control to infrastructure configuration management.

 

AZURE RESOURCE MANAGER TEMPLATES

Implement declarative Infrastructure as Code using Azure Resource Manager.

BLUEPRINTS

Automated deployment entire environments, with full lifecycle version management.

AUTOMATED SCRIPTS

Implement Imperative Infrastructure as Code (IaC) using Command-Line scripts.

AZURE SDKS AND REST APIS

Custom code can be built to automate Azure resources, too.

 

 

Adapt Your Business to Embrace a Cloud Migration

We hope this has provided new insight into the business opportunity that application migration and modernization offers, and valuable guidance on how to successfully execute a migration or modernization project.

As Microsoft Azure Cloud Experts – the Cloud Migration and Application Modernization team at 360 Visibility is equipped to help you optimize and manage your cloud migration. We can help your business with:

  • Assessing what infrastructure or applications to migrate to the cloud
  • Cost / benefit analysis
  • Optimized design and deployment of cloud infrastructure
  • Management and optimization of your new cloud workloads
  • Best practices, security, and compliance

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT 360 VISIBILITY TODAY TO DISCUSS YOUR CLOUD MIGRATION PLANS

Jason Meilleur
As the Senior Manager of Cloud Solutions at 360 Visibility, Jason has combined his technical and business development backgrounds to expand cloud based services and the company’s infrastructure customer base. Having a long standing family history of hard working entrepreneurs, Jason has developed a strong desire for business growth.
360 Visibility