Migrating to Microsoft Azure Has Never Been Easier

Oscar Cobles

Over the past few years at Equinix, we have seen a large number of companies wonder whether the cloud fits into their digital transformation plans. However, given the current events with the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud migration is a necessity to quickly scale IT environments for an ever-growing remote workforce. And now that the cloud is empowering the agility of the global digital business landscape, it’s necessary to ask other questions to successfully migrate to the cloud. For example, should I move my servers to the cloud just as they are? Are the servers and applications in the cloud optimized for cost efficiency? How am I going to move my data?

Major public cloud providers are aware of both the growing demand and these and other questions that businesses may have about moving to the cloud. To be more competitive they must create mechanisms and tools capable of speeding up the migration process, as well as address the questions that may delay or limit a company’s cloud adoption. In this post, we’re going to explore how you can successfully migrate from a VMware vCenter on-premises server to Microsoft Azure with an agentless solution.

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Fast migration from VMware vCenter to Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure provides several tools and services such as Azure Migrate or Azure Site Recovery (ASR) to perform agentless and agent-based migration from AWS EC2, VMware virtual machines (VMs), Hyper-V VMs and physical servers.

Azure Migrate has different methods and tools to speed up application/data migration. It provides a central hub to track discovery, assessment, and the migration of your on-premises applications and workloads from both physical and virtual servers, and other private/public cloud VMs. The hub provides free in-house Azure Migrate tools for assessment and migration, as well as third-party independent software vendor (ISV) offerings.

Below, we’ll walk you through some mandatory steps during this phase of your cloud journey using Azure Migrate with Equinix interconnection services.

Discovery

The Azure Migrate Server Assessment tool allows you to discover all the target servers you need to assess before migrating apps/workloads to the cloud. Once you create a new migration project from the Azure Migrate dashboard, follow these steps using the lightweight VMware VM appliance within Azure Migrate and you’ll complete the discovery phase in just a few minutes:

  1. Download an Open Virtualization Appliance (OVA) template file and import it to vCenter Server
  2. Configure the appliance and register it with the Azure project to start continuous discovery
  3. After discovery, it takes around 15 minutes for metadata of discovered VMs to appear in the Azure portal

Assessment

After you complete the discovery phase, no other installation is required to run an assessment. From the Azure Migrate dashboard, you will select the group of VMs you want to assess and then specify several properties to customize the assessment. There are two types of assessments you can run:

  • Performance-based: Recommendations based on collected usage data
  • As-is on-premises: Recommendations based on on-premises VM size

After the assessment is performed, you can view the results from the dashboard. You can also download a more detailed Excel file to show the results of the assessment. The screenshot below illustrates how the assessment assigns a readiness category for each VM and provides an estimate of what the monthly compute and storage costs will be after migration.

Azure Migrate has different methods and tools to speed up application/data migration.

Network Configuration

The migration appliance sends the collected data to Azure Migrate Server Assessment and Azure Migrate Server Migration over SSL port 443. While the appliance can connect to Microsoft Azure via the public internet, we recommend that businesses lift and shift their workloads via a direct and secure Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute connection through Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™). This software-defined interconnection provides a private, low-latency, high-bandwidth connection that is optimal for pushing large data sets to Microsoft Azure in a faster and more secure way than the public internet.

 Application Migration

After performing the assessment and configuring the network it’s time to start the migration tasks:

  1. Prepare Azure Migrate: From the migration project in the Azure dashboard, add a new migration tool and choose the Azure Migrate Server Migration tool.
  2. Prepare VMware vCenter: Download the OVA template, install the appliance in VMware vCenter and make the necessary changes on the VMs based on its OS Prior to the replication. The current infrastructure must be prepared to connect to Microsoft Azure VMs before migratio
  3. Replicate VMs: This step configures the replication and starts replicating to Microsoft Azure storage all VMs selected.
  4. Migrate the VMs: From the Azure Migrate project, shut down the virtual machines and perform a planned migration.

We recommend that businesses lift and shift their workloads via a direct and secure Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute connection through ECX Fabric.

Best migration practices and recommendations

Although it is not necessary to configure the ECX Fabric and Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute settings before the assessment, we suggest taking this step as soon as possible to provide the best possible security controls throughout the cloud journey.

Run several assessments with different conditions, playing with both as-is and performance-based assessments, before making any migration decisions.

Since collecting performance data takes time for a high confidence rating, after setting up discovery, wait at least a day before running a performance-based assessment.

We highly recommend using the Test Migrate option in the migration phase, at least once for each virtual machine, to ensure that everything will work as expected.

You can contact a local Global Solutions Architect to learn more about how to accelerate your cloud migration. We also suggest you read the ECX Fabric data sheet to learn more about how to quickly and securely migrate your data and workloads to Microsoft Azure.

 

Run several assessments with different conditions, playing with both as-is and performance-based assessments, before making any migration decisions.