Preparing for a successful Azure migration process
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.
The Ed Broking experience underlines the relative power and simplicity of migrating to Microsoft Azure. In a matter of weeks we were able to transfer 120+ virtual servers and 50Tb of data from our existing hosted infrastructure into the cloud.
Did we make mistakes? Yes, fortunately none were disastrous – but we learned a lot about how to avoid similar situations in future. Here are our top tips for making your own Azure migration a success.
Get the C-Suite behind the project
Buy in from senior decision makers is vital. Like any other IT project, there is potential for disruption, budget overspend and delayed end user uptake. But with the support of the board you can help pushing the project through to a successful conclusion.
“The impetus for our project came from the senior executive team, pushing us to innovate. They now bombard us with questions about when each new feature of Azure or Office 365 will be deployed,” explains CTO Dave Williams.
Azure is a long term strategic investment for your business. If the C-Suite can communicate that vision to the rest of your organisation, you can overcome many of the personal and political barriers that can cause IT projects to fail.
Allow plenty of time for planning
Perhaps the biggest mistake we made was to push ahead with a particularly tight deadline. In an ideal world we would have started the project earlier, giving ourselves more time for planning and execution.
“Give yourself as much time to sort out all of the niggly bits before hand. That would be my advice,” Matt Feasy, Server Manager at Ed Broking said.
It is a testament to the abilities and commitment of our cloud partner – Navisite – and their relentlessly helpful account manager, Caroline Mantle, that we have been able to draw up workable plans. Without their experience we could not have completed the migration in the timeframe allowed.
Build proof-of-concept models to save time and money later
Cloud services often work out more expensive than expected because everything is metered and billed as it is used. Proof-of-concept models are therefore important on two levels.
First, modelling allows you to confirm that migrated servers will operate and perform correctly in the Azure cloud. These tests will also identify configuration issues and problems that need to be addressed before you begin working with real server images.
Second, you can see where resources are not optimised for the cloud. Making the necessary changes and updates before (or during) migration will help contain costs and avoid unexpectedly high bills.
Line up skills and resources in advance
The Azure migration process may seem relatively straightforward for a skilled server administrator, but cloud technologies are fundamentally different to managing your local data centre. Misplaced confidence in skills and a failure to fully understand the operating/billing model of Azure can quickly bring a promising project into disrepute.
You must ensure you have the necessary skills in place before work starts because you won’t have time to learn them later. Alternatively, choose a cloud services partner who can supply consultants as and when required. This will help to keep delays to a minimum.
“With our partner Navisite I never get the corporate, ‘This is the way it is, because this is the way it is.’ We have a conversation. If there's a problem, we work together to resolve it. I always feel our account manager - Caroline Mantle - is on our side and got our backs, and that service management side of thing is the bit that keeps our projects on schedule,” concludes David Field.
The average Azure project has dozens of moving parts, but they can be controlled and directed effectively – if you complete the pre-migration work first.
Want to learn how your organization can benefit from Microsoft Azure cloud managed services? Reach out today to explore how we can help you.