Azure migration – the view from the Server Manager
Ed Broking is a wholesale insurance and reinsurance broker, sourcing policies and coverage across a broad range of industries. Based in London, Ed Broking operates a number of international offices to support their global operations. Faced with replacing an ageing hosted server system, Ed Broking took the decision to move to fully hosted Microsoft Azure platform. This is their story.
By the time I became involved with the server migration project, our senior decision makers had already chosen Microsoft Azure as the technology of choice. It then became my responsibility to liaise with the technical specialists at Navisite to perform the actual physical migration.
The project involves migrating 80+ virtual servers into the Azure cloud within a matter of weeks. Developing a robust, reliable process for moving files and data has been vital to success:
- The Azure Site Recovery agent is installed on each virtual server.
- The migration process is manually triggered from the Azure control panel; data and files are copied automatically to the cloud.
- Once replication is complete Azure fails-over, powering off the local virtual server and making the cloud version the primary site.
- The new virtual server is reconfigured to ensure optimal performance by assigning virtual CPUs and resources. The IP address is also updated to ensure clients can connect as normal.
- The machine is then passed to Navisite for final configuration; they install remote management agents and antivirus software and assume responsibility for ensuring the machines are maintained and updated for as long as we need them.
Navisite completed initial set-up and testing of the virtual machine migration. We then took over the physical transfer of data because it is easier to arrange and manage in-house.
Looking to the future
The initial project discovery exercise identified a number of redundant or under-utilised virtual servers. We took the opportunity to retire or consolidate these machines, reducing our initial cloud footprint and simplifying management slightly.
The next phase of our Azure adoption project will involve tightening security as much as possible. As soon as the servers have all been migrated we will build a DMZ to better control access. This will then be complemented by a series of new security groups that limit access based on application or user requirements. We also expect to enhance our intrusion detection capabilities to better protect our data systems, our company and our customers.
Tips from one Server Manager to another
It’s a cliché, but everything comes down to planning. Give your project team as much time as possible to plan and test tools and processes. If you solve niggly issues before the project starts everything will be much easier moving forward.
The process of moving servers and data is entirely dependent on your internet connection. Our experience is that trying to move more than four or five VMs per configuration server will impact performance elsewhere on the network. Ensure that you have sufficient bandwidth to make the transition in advance – or you will have to schedule and manage transfers out-of hours.
Once underway the process should be relatively smooth – assuming you’ve sorted the basics during planning.
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