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Migrating from AWS to Azure: A Guide to Making a Seamless Move
Making the move from AWS to Azure is a common decision businesses make when looking to improve their cloud infrastructure. With new features, continuous improvements, and cost-saving scalability, Azure has become an increasingly attractive solution. But the transition process can be complicated and difficult to navigate.
We often get asked about moving to the Azure Cloud, and our answer is always, 'It depends'. It depends on what your current environment is like, what your goals are for the move, and even whom you'd like to talk to about the move. But if you're considering an AWS to Azure move or an AWS to Azure hybrid move, then you are in the right place. This blog article will provide guidance in making a seamless move from AWS to Azure, exploring the steps businesses need to take for a successful migration.
The cloud computing market is highly competitive and dynamic, with the latest versions having made big changes to the way that applications can be developed and deployed. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a subsidiary of Amazon.com that offers on-demand cloud computing platforms. AWS provides a powerful set of global cloud services to help businesses scale and grow, with a focus on ease of use and flexibility. But it now costs up to 5 times the price of Azure. Microsoft Azure, the cloud computing platform from Microsoft, has made great strides in affordability and integration with existing licenses, free extended security updates, and many more improvements that seemed to be aimed squarely at AWS users.
Microsoft's cloud offerings have grown exponentially over the last three years. As with all things cloud during the pandemic, the remote and hybrid work systems demanded adaptability and security.
Of course, there are still large segments of today's enterprises for whom AWS is just fine; nevertheless, as new technology stacks are adopted by developers across all industries, the underlying support infrastructure must evolve to support them. Despite claims of ongoing innovation, AWS has lagged behind in supporting emerging technology trends such as microservices architecture.
There are a few key considerations businesses need to take into account when planning your migration from AWS to Azure. The first is workload compatibility. Not all workloads are compatible with Azure, so it's important to assess which workloads can be migrated and which might need to remain on AWS.
The second is cost. Azure is scalable, but costs can add up, so businesses need to consider their budget and whether the cost savings Azure offers are worth the return on investment. Finally, businesses need to ensure they have the right skills and resources in place to support an Azure migration. With the right planning and preparation, businesses can make a seamless transition to Azure.
Key benefits of migrating from AWS to Azure?
One of the key benefits of Azure is that it offers a number of features and benefits that are not available on AWS. Azure also offers cost savings over AWS, making it an attractive option for businesses looking to improve their cloud infrastructure without breaking the bank.
Another key benefit of Azure is its compatibility with a variety of workloads. Not all workloads are compatible with Azure, but a number of popular workloads can be migrated seamlessly. This includes workloads such as Windows and SQL Server. Finally, Azure offers businesses the ability to scale their infrastructure on demand. This means businesses can quickly and easily add or remove resources as needed, without incurring the costs associated with adding new hardware.
When migrating from AWS to Azure, it is important to consider the following:
- The overall cost of setting up and maintaining the cloud infrastructure
- Applications and workloads you want to move
- Length of time you want to maintain the applications in AWS for business continuity and/or data governance
- The amount of time each application takes to move
- Azure's strengths that could make AWS migration easier
Vendor Lock-in & Data Portability
Vendor lock-in and data portability are two of the biggest issues of migrating from AWS to Azure. At CSW, we have seen a rise in customers who want to move to an in-house development environment (private cloud), or migrate to Azure. This is mainly due to their interest in using the latest available technology, with which they have more control over the development, maintenance, and operation.
To help with your seamless move, we have compiled best practices for migrating from AWS to Azure while minimizing vendor lock-in and data portability risks.
- Ensure that your AWS application is architected in a way that supports a seamless migration.
- Adopting a multi-cloud strategy will allow you to retain flexibility in case you need to move your workloads between providers.
- If you are currently hosting your applications on AWS, try not to build too many dependencies on AWS services and other infrastructure.
The cost of migrating from AWS to Azure may seem minimal, but there are a lot of hidden costs that often get overlooked when making the move. If a company has been using AWS for a while, they will have had to pay various fees in order to host data on their cloud. These costs can take many different forms, depending on the exact solution adopted. On top of this, moving data can can be costly and time-consuming, even if the data is being copied between cloud providers. It is important to minimize costs by keeping the following things in mind, right from the planning all the way through to the actual migration:
AWS and Microsoft have different billing structures. They both have their benefits so it's worthwhile to understand how they work. There are also other considerations you will have to make - AWS usage monitoring differs greatly from that of Azure, where cost savings can be calculated based on current or future usage. If you're migrating huge amounts of data, you may want to consider a data transfer service like Safe Transfer that can help alleviate the cost of data transfers.
Differences in Availability Models
Whether you are building a new application in the cloud or migrating an existing application to the cloud, you have to make decisions around where and how it is going to run. It's important to understand the differences in the availability models as well as what features/services are included in each. Availability refers to the level of serviceability of the applications and data on your Virtual Machines (VMs) regardless of the underlying hardware infrastructure.
Elevated levels of availability are achieved by using physically separate, secure data centers that are linked through low-latency networking, cloud services, and other technologies. Here are the main differences in availability models between AWS vs Microsoft Azure.
AWS offers these availability options for instance sizes:
- Dedicated Instances – You have the instance all to yourself. There are no other instances sharing the same hardware.
- Full Dedicated Instances – You have the instance all to yourself, with no other instances sharing the same hardware. However, a hardware failure in your instance (for example, a server or a disk) will cause you to lose your data.
Microsoft Azure has a different availability model than Amazon Web Services. The level of availability of your application depends on which of these models is best for your application. Microsoft Azure offers the following availability options for instance sizes:
- Availability Zones
Of course if you are running a mission-critical application that is critical to your business and you need it to be completely up, then you will want to run in an availability zone. With an availability zone you can have multiple, independent Virtual Networks that are dedicated to meeting your availability requirements. Availability Zones gives you the choice of deploying your virtual machines to two or more distinct physical regions, called Availability Zones. Availability Zones are physically separate from each other within an Azure region. There are three Availability Zones per support region, and each Availability Zone is isolated from all others. Each of these zones (physical locations) has equivalent network connectivity, power, cooling, and security monitoring. If one of these locations has a problem, the other is completely unaffected.
You can choose the number of Availability Zones based on the level of business continuity and disaster recovery that you need. The higher the number of zones, the higher the cost and complexity of managing.
- Scale Sets
Scale sets automatically scale the number of instances up and down based on a defined minimum and maximum number of instances, based on CPU utilization or custom triggers (such as storage space or network availability). This is all done without any proactive management by the customer and without requiring any action to increase or decrease capacity. Customers set a minimum and maximum size for their scale set. Each scale set has a unique URL that includes its current number of instances in the "name" portion of the URL. This means that it is simple for customers to monitor capacity usage through existing tools and dashboards.
- Availability Sets
The concept of an availability set was designed to provide a simple way to ensure the performance and high availability of your application when utilizing multiple VMs that are running on the same availability set.
This functionality has been available and utilized by Azure users for some time via scripts or methods outside of the GUI. The availability set feature provides a native, easy-to-use method to group an arbitrary group of VMs while providing load balancing and high availability policies to those VMs.
As a part of an availability set, every VM that is configured to use this feature should be configured in an identical fashion. This is to ensure that if one VM fails, all VMs in the availability set fail in unison and are not impacted by another VM in the same availability set.
- Load Balancer
This is a highly scalable and redundant load balancing service that distributes incoming application traffic across multiple instances of your application. With Azure Load Balancer, you can protect your application from overload or failure, by distributing the incoming application traffic across multiple servers. This topology helps you to achieve high availability for the following scenarios:
You can add an Availability Zone to an Availability Set to combine the features of both resources for your most resilient applications. The Azure Load Balancer distributes traffic among the VMs in the availability set, and if an instance goes down, the Azure Load Balancer redistributes the traffic to another healthy instance. The load balancer sends all user requests to the instances, including health probe requests that determine whether an instance is healthy and eligible to receive user requests.
- Azure Storage
In Microsoft Azure, the storage redundancy model enables you to ensure high availability and data durability with the storage service.The default redundancy option is Locally Redundant Storage (LRS), which means that there are three replicas at a given site. This is a good target for ensuring fast restoration time for your data. However, you can also set up a three-way mirror, or an account in Azure Storage geo-redundant azure storage (GRS), which means that the data is replicated in three different geographic regions at once.
- Azure Site Recovery
Microsoft Azure Site Recovery is a disaster recovery-as-a-service offering that helps ensure business continuity by keeping business apps and workloads running during outages. Site Recovery replicates physical machines (VMs) from a primary site to a secondary site using Azure replication technologies. The process of transferring VMs from one location to another is called "migration." Migration can be initiated by the customer or by Microsoft Azure Site Recovery, depending on the configuration.
How do I choose between them?
Every migration is different, and so are the requirements of your applications. To determine which one is right for you, consider the following three questions:
- Have I tested this in my own environment?
- Is my application compliant with the Azure SLA?
- Do I need a canonical or geo-redundant fault domain?
If you answer "yes" to all three questions, then keep reading - we'll help you make an informed decision about which replica option is right for you.
From AWS to Azure - Operating systems, Platforms, Languages, and Storage Protocols
Cloud computing environments are complex, but they come in different flavors to ease management and use. Azure, and AWS have different flavors, and it can be a challenge to choose the right one. Especially if you're migrating an existing application or infrastructure. Moving to Azure is going to be like moving to a new city. You still need a place to sleep, get a bite to eat and go to the store. You might need to change your application, storage, or operating systems (OS) to be able to use Azure, or you might need to change your deployment model - such as moving from an on-premises deployment to a cloud service.
We will cover the aspects of migration, such as operating systems, platforms, storage, languages, and certificates. It is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of what you will need to consider when moving from AWS to Azure. When migrating to Azure, several considerations will depend on your current environment and the services that you are planning to migrate.
The first step is to understand your options. The Microsoft Cloud offers a broad set of resources and services to be used in an infinite number of ways. You may not migrate everything in your environment to Azure at once. This is especially true when it comes to operating systems. You may not want to migrate everything to a non-Microsoft operating system and/or when you are using a non-Microsoft platform as your core infrastructure. You may even have a third-party vendor that certifies a platform is compatible with your industry's regulations or compliance requirements.
AWS offers a Shared Responsibility model that makes it easy for developers to provision instances and forget about them. AWS owns the underlying hardware, but the developer doesn't need to manage patches and other maintenance tasks. While this model is much easier for developers to use, it comes at a cost and requires additional administrative tasks from someone else, either from internal resources or from AWS. So, who's in charge of patching? To be clear, AWS isn't ignoring security; they've done a great job of providing services like Amazon Inspector and Shield, but AWS doesn't have the liability for that software's security.
Microsoft Azure Cloud Service provides an IaaS platform that is hosted in Microsoft data centers. Azure uses resilient storage infrastructure and high-speed network to deliver applications that can be activated in minutes. There are options to use geo-replication and replication across data centers to provide consistent disaster recovery, and a backup service provided as a service (Azure Site Recovery) to help protect against accidental deletion of data. Azure follows the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) and shares the security responsibility with the customer. The SDL is a well-defined process for building secure software.
In general, it's important to understand the difference between these two models before making a decision about which cloud provider to use. The main difference is that Azure requires some operational overhead for the customer, whereas AWS requires administrative tasks to be performed by someone else.
Select a Cloud Migration Strategy
A cloud migration strategy is a crucial piece of your cloud adoption. It will pivot your IT department to the public cloud, streamline many of your business processes and help build long-term flexibility for your organization. Migrating to the cloud can take a lot of different paths and it is important to ensure the path you choose is right the one for you. If you follow an effective migration plan, you'll get to the root cause of your process inefficiencies. There are different ways to migrate to the cloud; rehosting, lifting and shifting, refactoring, repackaging, rebuilding and rearchitecting.
If you've opted to rehost your application in the cloud, you'll want to make sure that you rehost it as easily and with as few constraints as possible. The first step in doing this is to determine if your application is a good fit for rehosting. If you don't know if your application is a good fit or if you want to find out more about the process, check out our post on rehosting , which outlines common scenarios in which rehosting makes sense.
A good place to start looking at cloud hosting options is the Microsoft Azure platform. Azure has a number of features that can make a migration to the cloud relatively painless. These features include:
Azure Migrate: An agent-less service that helps you scan your workloads and environments to identify issues before migration.
Service Bus: A message-based platform that helps integrate applications developed using different technologies, languages, and frameworks.
Refactoring is not a substitute for good architecture. However, as systems age and evolve, it becomes necessary to clean up, optimize, and fix up areas of the code. This is where refactoring comes in. Refactoring is the process of applying small, safe changes to software that improve the internal design without changing its external behavior. In other words, it’s when we take code that works and make it work better.
Rebuilding your cloud strategy from scratch is no simple task, but it is a critical part of building a solid foundation for your business to grow. As your business scales, you will have to rewrite your cloud strategy at least once. For example, you've been asked to rebuild your company's entire cloud strategy. The problem is, it's not the first time you've had to do this. You didn't have a clear strategy the first time around, and now you find yourself in the same boat. Rebuilding without a clear direction or worse, without key lessons learned the first time you did it, can be difficult.
Another alternative? Re-architecture, which involves moving workloads to a cloud-based system that has been architected for agility, efficiency, and cost control. In this scenario, migration is merely a stepping stone on the way to futureproofing your business and future-proofing your workloads, since the process itself allows you to look at your existing business processes with a fresh eye. Once you decide to convert your systems, you can realize remarkable benefits but you must be prepared to change your entire IT landscape including how resources are managed, data is stored and processed, and how changes are made.
Lift and Shift
Lift and Shift is an approach best suited for SMBs that want to move their workloads quickly while minimizing costs. Overall, Lift and Shift is a cost-effective approach to cloud migration that can significantly reduce risk to provide the most seamless transition from your current on-premises environment to the Azure platform. The process consists of the following five steps:
- Identify if your current solution is a candidate for Lift and Shift.
- Determine if you need to create apps in Azure, or if you can re-use existing ones.
- Use Sysprep to prepare VMs for rapid deployment as Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates.
- Prepare the VM by downloading Server Roles and Features for the VM images.
- Deploy the VMs to Azure in an automated manner.
Some organizations may have specific applications that they want to take advantage of Azure's unique advantages, such as Azure Batch, Machine Learning, Logic Apps or Media Services (video transcoding). They may also have a small set of custom applications that need to be migrated piece by piece. They may have custom developed enterprise software, such as a home-grown ERP system that needs to be migrated in-house. The migration to Azure continues to be the right option no matter what kind of solution your organization needs to improve and modernize operations and upgrade your current systems.
AWS to Azure Final Thoughts
Whether you're looking for a hybrid cloud solution or want to cut costs by using your own data center, Azure can easily manage and store sensitive data and have sensitive data with cross-platform compatibility. Even if you have regulatory requirements that require you to keep all of your data on-premise, you can make the most of cloud solutions to back up and protect your data with Azure. We recommend using the Azure Cloud Readiness Assessment tool to get an understanding of the workloads that could be migrated. CSW can help you understand why you should move and what steps you should take to migrate your existing AWS applications to Azure. We have experience with Amazon Web Services, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, so whatever platform you need help migrating from, we are here to help with Azure migration services.