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Sweat the small stuff now, reap even bigger returns from your Microsoft Azure migration

There are times when sweating the small stuff really does matter. Case in point: Migrating your Microsoft SQL Server 2008 or Microsoft Windows Server 2008 workloads to Microsoft Azure.

Sweat the small stuff now, reap even bigger returns from your Microsoft Azure migration

With end of support for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 just weeks away on July 9, 2019, and Windows Server 2008 R1 and R2 reaching end of support (EoS) on January 14, 2020, if you haven’t already begun a migration there might be a temptation to throw caution to the wind and just jump in. After all, EoS does have security and compliance concerns which most businesses are keen to avoid.

But a little planning up front can reap big rewards for your business.

So what’s the first step? Assessment, assessment, assessment.

It’s the critical first step. Without a thorough assessment of your environment and the specific applications, databases and servers in it, you can’t fully understand what you have, what your options are and what the costs might be.

Pathways to success

There are essentially two key streams our customers are adopting in the migration from SQL Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 to Azure: lift and shift migrations to Azure infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS); and transformation (or modernization) to Azure platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

On the database side, there are several options available for PaaS.

Managed instances

Managed instances are a high-fidelity fit, proving close to a 100% match to what you can get in SQL on-premises installations.

If you’re running full featured applications, using a lot of the functionality in SQL and with quite a bit of customisation, a SQL managed instance is likely to be the best fit for you. It’s essentially having SQL instances, managed and controlled by Microsoft, deployed in their data centre, with full access to a SQL environment.

Single instances

If, on the other hand, you’re using standard applications, with standard requirements and not too many customisations, a SQL single instance may be a better fit for you.

You might have vendor applications installed using a stock standard installation. The database has to be there because it supports something at the back end, but you know there is not going to be a lot of customisation, management or maintenance required but you need the SQL instance to support the application.

A word of caution on this one: While it’s increasingly common for third-party vendors to support applications using SQL databases running as a PaaS service, not all do. If your vendor doesn’t you will need to run SQL as a virtual machine in Azure instead of opting for PaaS.

Lift and shift

As the name implies, this is an option to lift your current workloads as they are and shift them into Azure, minimising development costs while still gaining the benefits of cloud hosting and the move from the unsupported server systems.

One thing we do recommend you seriously consider is having a dedicated ExpressRoute private connection in place before anything else. It’s not impossible to do a lift and shift across a VPN, but the dedicated private connection provided by ExpressRoute offers improved speed, lower latencies and higher reliability and security than typical internet connections.

Testing, testing…

Testing, post migration, is also a critical factor.

Most migrations will be done over a weekend to minimise disruption to production systems. Who is going to be available over the weekend to test the application and ensure nothing has been missed and any configuration that needs to happen is picked up and completed? It’s important to have system integration testing and user application testing post migration to ensure the system is good before you open up access for your users.

We also recommend doing a test migration before you do the production cutover. A simulation cutover can be very useful for providing feedback on areas such as any records that need updating or changes to tables in databases.

Making sure you plan your migration properly will ensure a smooth transition and enable you to be reaping the benefits of your modernised environment quickly and efficiently, without disruption to your user base.

Here at Empired, we have a mature migration and planning process and can walk you through the process, including providing a full migration assessment. So, if you’re ready to make the move, contact us.

Posted by: Jaen Snyman, National Business Manager Cloud Design and Integration | 05 July 2019

Tags: Cloud Platform, Data Analytics, Microsoft Azure, Data Migration, Microsoft SQL Server

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