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Azure Roadmap For Customers
Arindam Banerjee Enterprise Architect, Digital & Analytics | November 11, 2020
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Cloud: Enabling Customers with a Roadmap to Microsoft Azure Cloud

Leading industry analyst Gartner reported a 30% growth in the public cloud services market in 2019. With the strong shift to remote work and video conferencing etc., due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adoption and/or migration to cloud will definitely be a bigger trend in 2020 and beyond.

With Microsoft Azure being one of the top contenders for cloud-enabled services and capabilities world-wide and growing at a relatively faster pace than other public cloud offerings (62% revenue growth for Azure YOY vs 34% for AWS), customers will feel an increasing urgency to define, design, and map their cloud journey or improve competences if they are already underway.

The objective of this blog post is to look at the various aspects that need to be considered to ensure an optimized cloud journey to Microsoft Azure and call-out capabilities and resources that can be leveraged to ensure a seamless transition to Azure.

Our experience suggests that any cloud journey including the one to Microsoft Azure subscription essentially involves four phases:

  1. Assessment
  2. Initiation/enablement
  3. Modernization
  4. Scaling out/continuous improvement

Key aspects in ensuring a successful cloud journey on Microsoft Azure

Assessment Phase

One of the key activities in this phase is to determine the expected outcomes by introducing cloud migration and sign those off with key customer’s stakeholders. These are typically assessed around the areas of:

  1. Fiscal outcomes: Increasing revenues and reducing/avoiding costs
  2. Agility outcomes: Optimizing time-to-market and business provisioning
  3. Global reach outcomes: Ensuring entry to new markets while adhering to global compliance needs
  4. Customer engagement and performance outcomes: Ensuring improved reliability and cycle times for internal users and external stakeholders such as customers/ partners and vendors

Typically, around this point, a cloud (Azure) experienced partner is also enabled by the customer to provide guidance, determine the right options, and ensure success in the cloud journey.

Depending on the appetite of the customer, more detailed financial models are worked out which identify the CAPEX and OPEX costs (leading to the TCO), pinpoint cost deltas, and help quantify the ROI with cloud enablement.

This is critical to ensure leadership buy-in the customer organization and enable commitment at the highest levels.

The assessment phase also considers non-financial aspects such as a skill readiness plan for Microsoft Azure enablement – capturing concerns (and addressing change), upskilling/ reskilling programs including training, certifications etc.

The final activity is to assess the digital estate and prepare an inventory of assets encompassing all SW and HW components shape up the cloud adoption plan.

Initiation/Enablement Phase

Here the initiatives rolled out in the assessment phase are further worked upon and the key tasks/activities identified previously are taken into action.

It involves focus on two specific areas – skills and the blueprint for the cloud migration. The skills aspect is addressed with a focused drive/plan toward Azure trainings and Microsoft certifications and hands-on tutorials.

The blueprint for the cloud migration is addressed across different aspects:

  1. Defining the ‘landing zone’ – An enterprise multi-tent Azure subscription detailing one-level down to the landing zone tenets
  2. Defining the architecture design and the implementation approaches of the landing zone
  3. Creating the overall timeline for cloud adoption/migration – From a point of view of one workload to how the landing zones can be expanded, and best practices assimilated

Microsoft’s own Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) is a great asset to firm up the strategy and approach across these phases

Modernization Phase

So far, we have identified the as-is state, determined the outcomes of going to cloud, initiated the actions on enabling Azure trainings, and have come up with the timeline to adopt/ migrate to Azure with a clear view of the as-is inventory, the digital estate and the corresponding future state using Azure ‘landing zones’.

Next, we go one level deeper and map cloud-native application(s) and application groups to the following possible scenarios of migration:

  1. Rehost – Lift and Shift: Applications are moved from as-is current state to Azure cloud with minimal architecture changes
  2. Refactor: To a PaaS based model often with containerization
  3. Rearchitect: From incompatible legacy applications to a modern application typically with a microservices/serverless architecture with DevOps in a PaaS model
  4. Rebuild: With greenfield development and a cloud-native codebase for incompatible older applications

Governance is the other major area that is firmed up during this phase with a focus on five disciplines – consumption, control, environment, visibility, and hierarchy.

Architectural governance with optimum speed and control is a cross-cutting concern that is also envisioned and acted upon along with the aforementioned five disciplines in this phase.

Scaling Out/Continuous Improvement Phase

With a well-architected and designed approach for Azure cloud adoption and migration being put into place the final area to be considered is to stabilize, build on the platform, incorporate learnings, best practices, and finally scale out.

Approaches considered are ‘Cloud Burst and Expand’ techniques from Microsoft on scaling out, architectural standardization and RAD (rapid application development) for cloud native applications on Microsoft Azure (leveraging native Azure PaaS services), and continuous monitoring and improvements on governance areas – e.g. cost optimization and proper resource allocation in the cloud subscription etc.

A roadmap to Microsoft Azure subscription is a well-governed and well-defined journey and with careful planning, guidance, and governance can take customers of any scale and size to the cloud (Microsoft Azure) ensuring many of the typical IT and business challenges to be met and exceeded.

HCL’s Digital and Analytics (D&A) Microsoft team is well-placed to assist customers in this endeavor with certified architects/SME’s happy to hand-hold customers at every step of the Azure PaaS services journey.