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8 Key Questions on Cloud Migration Answered

If you follow our blog, you’ll likely know that we recently hosted an Altaro panel-style webinar, featuring Microsoft MVPs Didier Van Hoye, Thomas Maurer, and myself. The topic of the webinar was centered around the journey to the cloud, or simply put, migrating to cloud technologies. Cloud technologies including, on-prem hosted private cloud, hybrid cloud solutions like Azure Stack, and public cloud technologies such as Microsoft Azure. We chose this topic because we’ve found that while most IT Pros will agree that adopting cloud technologies is a good idea, many of them are unsure of the best way to get there. To be honest, I think that uncertainty is to be expected given the vast amount of options emerging cloud technologies provide. The aim of this webinar was to clarify the services available and how to decide which form of cloud adoption will be best for you.

It seems this topic is something quite a lot of our audience are interested in hearing more about considering the number of questions which were asked during the webinar. I’ve decided to group the most commonly asked ones here and omitted the more specific questions that relate to particular set-ups and individual requirements. Apart from the questions, the topic also raised a lot of comments and discussion which I think is well worth mentioning here so you can get a feel about how others in the IT community are dealing with the issue of cloud migration and the various concerns it brings with it (further down the page).

Remember if you didn’t have a chance to ask a question during the webinar, or if you were unable to attend and want to ask something now, I will be more than happy to answer any questions submitted through the comment box at the bottom of this page.

Revisit the Webinar

If you haven’t already watched the webinar (or if you just want to watch it again) you can do so HERE

Free Cloud Migration webinar

8 Questions on Cloud Technologies and Migration Answered

Q. When can you consider a deployment a hybrid cloud? Is it Azure Stack? Is it something as simple as a VPN linking on-prem and a public cloud?

A. I don’t know if there is an official definition, but the current industry opinion would state that a hybrid cloud is any deployment where your workloads and deployments are stretching from on-prem to a public cloud player such as Azure or AWS.

Q. With the release of Windows Admin Center, will we see the RSAT (Remote Server Administration Toolkit) tools go away?

A. No. At this time both management solutions will be developed by their respective teams. With that said, if the adoption of WAC is strong enough, we could potentially see the slow “phasing out” of RSAT possibly as soon as the next version of Windows Server (after 2019)

Q. Is there any way to connect containers to Windows Admin Center?

A. As it stands at the time of this writing no. There currently is no mechanism to manage containers from WAC. With that said, due to WACs extensibility it’s not out of the question for a 3rd party vendor (or even Microsoft) to write an extension for WAC that would allow you to do so.

If you need advanced management of containers today, take a look at an orchestration tool like Kubernetes.

Q. How does Azure Stack compete with current open source private clouds in the industry such as OpenStack? Pricing is quite different and some can even be seen as “free” by higher management while disregarding the needed effort to support such a deployment.

A. While it’s true that OpenStack and other open source cloud platforms like it can potentially be free, it’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison when comparing them to Azure stack. Azure stack is the power and capabilities of Azure inside of your datacenter. Microsoft has taken everything they’ve learned with public Azure and packaged it up for you to use at your location. You manage it and get billed, much the same way as with Azure. You manage it via the web and get billed per usage.

OpenStack certainly has it’s uses, and I’m a huge supporter of Open Source, but if you’re a Microsoft Centric shop looking to host a cloud for your organization, it’s tough to go wrong with Azure Stack due to the similarities in management and integration with public Azure. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself, do you want to use/consume cloud services? Or do you want to build a cloud? Remember that building a cloud is difficult, costly and time intensive. It’s possible but ongoing management can be difficult. With Azure Stack much of that work and testing is taken care of for you.

Q. Do you have any suggestions for using Azure as a DR site?

A. It certainly is possible to use Azure for DR, and it’s often seen as one of the 1st services to move into the public cloud. You can certainly use Azure to host offsite backups and/or recovery to a nested hypervisor inside of Azure using a product such as Altaro VM Backup. If you need a more “hot” DR approach, you could look at something like Azure Site Recovery as well.

Q. What are your thoughts on using Cloud services to host file services for a small number of remote users

A. While you could certainly use something like OneDrive for Business, or Azure Files to do something like this, you need to first consider latencies and access times. Are your users consuming file types that work ok with longer than “local” latencies? If so these services may work for you. If not local on-network file storage may still be a requirement. Whatever route you chose to go, remember that file performance is often one of the most ticket generating user issue. Make sure you test before settling on an option.

Q. What are the rough costs for storage in Azure?

A. See the Azure Pricing Calculator for the latest pricing information

Q. Is there are “Cost Meter” in the Azure Interface? Someway of allowing you to keep an eye on mounting costs?

A. This is an area that Microsoft has continued to improve. The Azure Portal has many of its own cost monitoring and estimation tools, but if you need more than the basics, then take a look at Azure Cost Management.

Thoughts and Opinions from Webinar Attendees

On companies utilizing cloud technologies

“I Agree. It’s almost never going to be 100% cloud, except with brand new companies, and even then, a small number. 99.99% Will be Hybrid”

-Mark

“I Think we are ready for the cloud, but a lot of delay is being caused by software vendors. They are not ready for the cloud since their software was developed in the late 90s and the recent updates only contain updated branding and minor code changes. The cloud is entirely new for them and it scares them”

-Jos

On moving existing workloads to the cloud and dealing with old Operating Systems

“There is way too much very old stuff that will be difficult to move to the cloud. It will have to wait until there are resources (read: money) to re-architect the application/platform”

-Mark

“There are a LOT of 2003 boxes running in production still”

-Mark

“There are even still Windows NT Boxes running!”

-Jos

“We have some old NT and 2003 servers due to old technology interfaces, plus the original designers have left and there is no documentation”

-Steve

On the Need for On-Premises Equipment

“On-Premises data will always be required due to local/country laws. Think Switzerland, and think of the new GDPR laws in the EU. Almost every country will have their own local data center, Azure, AWS, Google…etc. It is the way it will go.”

-Mark

On the DevOps Movement in the Industry

“Don’t forget the OPS in DevOPS…. We are also interested in it and it is no longer strictly a Dev thing.”

-Nuno

On Container Technologies

“Still, A container is the App “package”. It still needs to run on something and while it can accelerate the delivery process, there’s still a huge dependency on the infrastructure landscape and IMO it’s really where Ops can shine and their current knowledge can translate into the container world”

-Nuno

On Getting Started with the Cloud

“Very good point about doing your personal systems in the cloud. I agree and am doing it also.”

-Mark

Wrap-Up

As you can see there are plenty of questions when it comes to moving to the cloud, but none of them are insurmountable. Moving to the cloud can be predictable, and doable, you just need to do your homework before you make the move.

What are your thoughts? Is the cloud something you’re considering in the 2018 calendar year? Why? Why not? Also, if you have additional questions, or you attended our webinar and don’t see your question above, be sure to let us know in the comments form below!

Thanks for reading!