The 6-Step Process to Successfully Migrate Your Legacy Applications to Azure

how to migrate your legacy application to Azure
Companies spanning a multitude of industries still use outdated, on-premise applications that slow productivity and are expensive to maintain.

The longer a company holds on to legacy systems, the harder it is to find employees who are trained on the program and can work with it seamlessly.

As a result, businesses are increasingly looking to Azure to upgrade their slow, outdated applications and take advantage of the flexibility, cost savings and productivity of the cloud.

Why Don’t More Companies Migrate Legacy Applications to Azure?

Shifting away from legacy applications can strike fear into the hearts of business leaders.

While organizations typically move to the cloud to improve security, speed and reduce expenses, the transition isn’t an easy, one-size-fits-all strategy.

Botched migrations can cost businesses dearly time and money — one study found 42 percent of professionals experienced a migration failure.

Why Do So Many Legacy Migrations Fail?

Migrations typically fail for two reasons.

The first is poor planning. Many organizations don’t discover issues until they’re in the middle of a migration and it has already affected system performance. The second reason is the inability to restart applications in the cloud.

Migration setbacks threaten business resilience and can affect productivity, reputation and revenue.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Comprehensive planning, the right IT expertise and ongoing resource management will ensure your organization gets the most out of migrating legacy applications to the cloud.

Here’s our six-step process to successfully migrate your legacy applications to Azure.

The 6-Step Process to Successfully Migrate Your Legacy Application to Azure

Migrating your business applications to Azure depends on your organization’s business needs, priorities and the type of application you’re migrating.

Business applications, especially outdated, legacy ones that have been used for years have unique attributes that require specialized planning.

Everything from data requirements, security, compliance and integration needs should be addressed within these six application migration steps.

1. Conduct a SWOT Analysis

First, conduct an objective analysis of the benefits and disadvantages of moving to the cloud. What are the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities migrating to the cloud presents?

The SWOT exercise takes migration planning a step beyond your technical plan. It should include everything from third-party software integrations and costs to employee training, security and compliance.

Taking a big-picture, holistic view will help you proactively identify potential operational, financial, technical and training obstacles and account for them in the planning process.

2. Assess Your Environment

Before you begin planning your migration, you need to evaluate your existing infrastructure.

Microsoft has several migration tools that provide a comprehensive inventory of servers, devices, performance metrics and profile information to build your cloud migration plan.

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit is an inventory and reporting tool that assesses IT environments for Azure migrations. It helps IT professionals understand how ready both physical and virtual workspaces are to migrate to Azure.

The MAP toolkit will help you review and document workloads, applications and processes you currently use including:

  • Infrastructure
  • Network architecture
  • Capacity
  • Performance requirements
  • Availability
  • Resilience requirements

The tool also helps you determine the maintenance processes to support your new cloud environment.

3. Select Your Migration Strategy

Next, it’s time to select your migration strategy: lift and shift, application evolution or application re-architecting.

Lift and Shift

Lift and shift migrations copy everything to the cloud precisely as is. It doesn’t require a lot of work to migrate an application, but it wastes resources and costs more to operate. You’ll likely be left paying for data you’re not currently using.

Application Evolution

In an application evolution, you identify pieces of the application to transition to the cloud. This method allows users to migrate to the cloud in chunks, rather than all at once, but it also might cost more to operate.

Application Re-Architecting

Application re-architecture breaks down applications and rebuilds them in a more scalable, modern design. You’re not starting from scratch, but it eliminates code that constrains your agility & preserves and enhances business-relevant functionality.

This option is best for legacy applications that are still business-relevant and provide differentiation. Completely reworking an application for the cloud is a big undertaking, but Microsoft Azure has made it easier to do with microservices like Azure Service Fabric.

The cloud doesn’t work in every scenario. You may have desktop integrations that only work on your current servers.

Or, you may have a performance-intensive app that would be cost-prohibitive to operate in the cloud. In that case, a hybrid cloud migration may be the best solution.

4. Run a Pilot Migration

Next, it’s time to prepare for the actual migration — deploying a pilot or test migration.

A pilot migration allows you to test the application in simulated situations that are close to your everyday operations.

The goal is to see how users interact with the new environment and work out any kinks before an official launch. Pilots are time-consuming because it involves users testing the application based on how they would normally use it.

Despite the time investment, it’s a low-risk tactic to identify potential issues before you perform the migration.

5. Migrate Your Legacy Application

 Now, that you’ve assessed and prepared your existing workloads and applications, you should have the blueprint to migrate your legacy application to Azure successfully. Here are a few best practices to highlight:

  • Back up your data: It’s imperative to back up all data before migrating your legacy application to Azure, so you don’t lose anything during the migration.
  • Testing: Post-migration testing is critical. Make sure all the data is present. Double-check security and compliance. Make sure all users can access everything they need.

A lot goes into an application migration. You can spend significant time and resources studying best practices, Azure tools and preparing for all issues. But attempting a legacy application migration isn’t worth the risk if you don’t have the right expertise.

Even if you have in-house IT staff, they may not have the Azure or migration expertise to ensure a successful transition. Hiring a legacy migration expert might be more beneficial than trying to do everything yourself.

6. Manage Your Cloud Usage and Resources

After you move to the cloud, applications hosted in Azure need to be monitored and optimized regularly to ensure you’re getting the most out of the cloud. Otherwise, you could end up paying for services and extra storage you’re not even using.

Cost Management for Azure and Azure Advisor can help you manage cloud resources:

  • Azure Advisor: Personalized recommendations within your Azure portal to optimize performance, availability and cost
  • Cost Management: This feature tracks Azure spend, cost and usage reports, alerts and recommendations to eliminate idle cloud resources and only pay for exactly what you’re using

Migrate Your Application to the Cloud With Helixstorm

No matter what application you’re moving — be it an accounting system or your primary CRM — working with a partner like Helixstorm will make everything easier.

Our team will migrate your systems, keeping your downtime low and your productivity high. Plus, we’ll help you manage your applications on an ongoing basis, so you get the most value out of your cloud investment.

Are you ready to stop stressing over your ancient, slow applications? Learn more about our experience with application migration services or schedule a free assessment today.