Four steps to migration to Azure

Four steps to migration to Azure

No matter which strategy you choose, you need a solution that makes cloud adoption as smooth and easy as possible—one that lets you migrate at your own pace.

This requires a cloud provider (and core partners) that can deliver a comprehensive set of tools and methods to help ease migration and reduce overall risk. Most of all, this solution should offer a simple process that’s easy to follow. With these goals in mind, Microsoft recommends a four-step migration process for moving to the cloud.

With this straightforward framework, you get a proven approach to migration. This process provides a clear picture of your entire application and workload portfolio, the best way to configure that portfolio to achieve migration, convenient tools to ensure lowimpact transfer, and ongoing performance and cost optimization. But before migration begins, how do you ensure that your virtual datacenter in the cloud is ready to receive your workloads?

As you’re planning to run your most critical applications there, you want to be confident that your cloud foundation is solid. If you already have workloads or DevTest running in the cloud, you might have an environment and connectivity ready to go. However, if you’re new to the cloud or only have a basic setup, you’ll need to perform a few steps before migration.

Before you migrate

Before migration, you need to build a virtual datacenter in your cloud, including connectivity, networking, storage, and identity—elements comparable to your on-premises environment. By establishing this virtual datacenter, you can ensure that your applications will continue to support your business after migration, without surprises. Building your virtual datacenter is a streamlined process because you can use components available in the cloud for quick assembly and configuration. You can take advantage of many excellent tools and guidance to help accelerate this step, but below are some of the basics— and why they’re essential to migration.


As in your on-premises environment, you need a way for users to be identified and authenticated to ensure secure access to your new cloud resources. Having the right identity solution can help you protect your applications and data and defend against malicious login attempts without disrupting productivity. Cloud providers offer built-in identity solutions as a service, like Azure Active Directory, or you can choose an independent solution.

Make sure that your cloud identity solution integrates with your on-premises identity system. Because your workloads will now be stored in the cloud, you’ll want seamless access for users between your existing on-premises systems and the systems you’ve migrated. A cloud-based identity management solution connected to your on-premises environment can help to ensure a positive user experience while also supporting your organization’s growth into more advanced cloud services


Another necessity in the cloud is a storage platform that will meet the expected performance needs of your migrated workloads. On-premises, this storage is usually through NAS- or SAN-based systems. In the cloud, virtual storage provides a wide range of storage options – managed disks, file storage, object storage, archive storage, big data storage and more.

Fortunately, you can choose among many storage types to guarantee reliable performance, including performance and access levels, backup, geographical replication, and disaster recovery. Working with a virtual storage platform also gives you a finer degree of control and configuration. You can easily configure exact storage requirements for each workload as needed, without having to worry about the physical architecture. Azure even offers managed storage, which takes the pain out of storage configuration. It requires you to enter just a few details before acquiring up to thousands of secure, reliable, and available disks for your migration project.


Networks are crucial. They are the symbolic backbone of the datacenter. Moving to the cloud requires a new way of networking since you’re no longer reliant on physical topology. In fact, you can now overcome physical boundaries with a single subnet, which simplifies networking communication. When moving applications from on-premises to the cloud, you might want to keep them in the same networking subnets and even IP address ranges to ensure a seamless migration. Virtual networking can support this and merge with your on-premises physical networking architecture as needed. This ensures that your applications can continue to use the network topology they were built upon, further easing migration.


During migration, you’re going to move vast amounts of data. However, you’ll still be moving data even after the bulk of your critical workloads are hosted in the cloud. As such, you should consider a more dedicated connectivity option to help with data transfer and the ultimate end-user experience.

You might currently have virtual networks set up, possibly using these over the internet or site-to-site VPN to connect to your cloud environment. While this works well for smaller deployments, you’ll need a new approach to run an entire enterprise both during and after migration.

Azure ExpressRoute is one compelling service to use for connectivity. It ensures both performance and security— especially in the initial heavy lifting of VMs to Azure, which involves considerable data flowing across the wires. ExpressRoute enables a faster, private connection to Azure.

Azure Data Box is another option for migrating large amounts of data – especially when you’re limited by time, network availability, or cost. Azure Data Box is a physical device that you connect to your network and load your data into by using standard NAS protocols. Then you simply send your data to Microsoft through a delivery transport service and it will be securely loaded into your Azure environment


While many core management skills are useful in the cloud, there are some key skill differences, so your team will need to get up to speed on some new tasks. However, training takes time away from performing core duties, can be costly, and often doesn’t properly build on what people already know.

Microsoft Learn can help solve these challenges with unique learning paths focused on job roles. This readiness tool offers simple online training in bite-sized pieces, practical labs, and assessments to test knowledge. It’s a fast way for your team to grow their skills, and, best of all, it’s free.

Ready to migrate

Now it’s time to begin your migration journey to the cloud! This series focuses on a migration process in which you move the bulk of your applications and workloads running on-premises to Azure Virtual Machines (and plan to modernize after the move has been performed). The environment in this scenario is set up in Azure with Azure Active Directory (linked to on-premises Active Directory) for identity management, with managed disks ready to receive the data and virtual networks deployed.