Microsoft speeds up cloud migration

Cloud migration is not as simple as just moving a VM from a local network to a cloud provider.

In July, Microsoft announced that it had acquired InMage to accelerate its plans for hybrid cloud, business continuity and disaster recovery.

By acquiring proven technology. Microsoft gained the ability to migrate workloads from several of its competitors such as VMware and Amazon Web Services. InMage is also used by a number of Microsoft partners and this means that it is able to strengthen its offering to them.

It has not taken long for Microsoft to integrate InMage into Azure and it has announced that a limited preview of Microsoft Migration Accelerator (MA) for Azure is now shipping.

The MA is an automated tool that will enable Azure customers to integrate their existing workloads into an Azure instance with the announcement suggesting that this will be an entirely seamless process.

Making this seamless will be easier where Microsoft is migrating workloads from competitors rather than the private cloud.

In moving applications into the cloud, many customers will have already sanitised their behaviour. Data will be partitioned, workloads will be better defined and many customers have already begun to rewrite their applications as part of a cloud deployment.

Where those workloads are still located inside the enterprise either as physical or virtual workloads there is likely to be application components spread across the data centre.

Some of this will be for security and application design reasons, in other cases it will be because applications have evolved over time rather than being rewritten. Moving these to the cloud for business continuity or disaster recovery is challenging.

Few customers regularly test their business continuity or disaster recovery solutions.

Those that do quickly discover that older application practices mean identifying all the key components is difficult.

There is no evidence that Microsoft will be doing a better job of enumerating application components with MA for Azure than it has with previous migration tools.

This is an industry and not just a Microsoft problem, which is why there is so much money spent on professional services to create stable and reliable business continuity and disaster recovery solutions.

Microsoft has announced four key benefits for customers looking to adopt MA for Azure:

  • Heterogeneity: With MA you can migrate workloads running on a broad range of platforms such as VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Amazon Web Services and/or Physical servers within your environment. MA can support workloads running on Windows Server 2008 R2 sp1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 operating systems.
  • Simple, Automated Migration: The MA portal allows you to automatically discover your enterprise workloads, remotely from the cloud.  With few clicks you can configure end-to-end migration scenarios. MA allows you to test your workload in the cloud without impacting the existing on premise production workload offering the ability to validate workload functionality before a cut over is performed.
  • Migrate Multi-tier Applications: MA boasts the unique ability to migrate multi-tier production system with application level consistency orchestrated across tiers. This ensures multi-tier applications run the same in Azure, as they ran at the source. Application startup order is even honoured, without the need for any manual configuration.
  • Continuous Replication, Least Cutover Time: MA for Azure provides full-system replication including the OS and application data.  This continuous replication and in-memory change tracking reduces the cut over time to mere minutes, minimising impact to product workloads.

Despite the challenges in setting all of this up, for many customers, it will be the continuous replication capability that will appeal.

Once they have overcome the problems of identifying all the application components, the ease of switching over to Azure when they most need it is attractive.

Microsoft is not the only vendor offering this type of solution and adding it to Azure shows that they are not going to be outmanoeuvred in the cloud space.

Colin Marrs

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