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Two tools to help move a virtual or physical workload to Azure

Microsoft's MAP Toolkit and VM Readiness and Assessment tool both offer important information regarding a workload migration to Azure.

The flexibility to scale workloads up and down is just one of the benefits of public cloud. Making the move to Microsoft Azure could cut costs, simplify management and make IT workloads available to anyone with access to the Internet. Making the move, however, can be a difficult process. Making sure everything is planned out is the first step and Microsoft offers two tools that can help you get ready.

Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines Readiness Assessment tool

Microsoft's Virtual Machine Readiness Assessment tool comes in handy when you want to move workloads running SQL, SharePoint and Active Directory applications to Azure. Whether you are running these applications on physical or virtualized workloads, the Azure VM Readiness Assessment tool will provide you a checklist and a detailed report. The tool presents a list of important questions about your environment depending on the application you plan to move. Once completed, the tool generates a detailed report as a Microsoft Word document.

Before the VM Readiness Assessment tool can show you a detailed report, you have to select the application you want to do an assessment for. The tool is designed specifically for doing an assessment of Active Directory, SharePoint or SQL Server applications as shown in Figure 1.

Getting ready
Getting ready

The questions asked during the assessment are pre-defined and some will appear regardless of the application you choose. For example, RDP and remote PowerShell questions will be asked for each application, as shown in Figure 2.

RDP and remote PowerShell question
RDP and remote PowerShell question

On the other hand, certain questions will only be asked depending on which application you are assessing. For example, before you plan to move all workloads running Active Directory to Microsoft Azure, the tool will provide you with relevant questions. Large organizations would require a few Active Directory domain controllers running in their data center, because some applications might require frequent access to Active Directory for authentication and authorization services. In such cases, it would not be a wise decision to move all Active Directory instances to Microsoft Azure. So keeping this requirement in mind, the tool provides you with necessary options, such as deploying Active Directory in Azure to extend on-premises Active Directory, as shown in Figure 3.

Active Directory question
Active Directory question

Once you are done answering all the questions, the tool will collect and analyze the data and create a detailed report. Not only does the report provide the data on supported and unsupported configuration of the application on Microsoft Azure, it also provides recommendations on best use of the application or technology in a Microsoft Azure environment.

Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit

Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit has been assisting organizations in planning to rollout of new Microsoft technologies for quite some time. For example, you can use the MAP Toolkit to do an assessment of your environment before migrating to a new Windows operating system. Similarly, you can gather data that would help you to consolidate the physical workloads to Hyper-V hosts. While the overall purpose of it is geared towards planning a rollout of new Microsoft technology, starting with MAP Toolkit 8.0, it now has the ability to assess a production environment and provide readiness data for physical or virtualized workloads that can be moved to Microsoft Azure.

Before you can see the readiness data, you will need to collect the inventory data by clicking on the Collect Inventory Data and then select the "Windows Azure Platform Migration" option in the Inventory and Assessment Wizard as shown in Figure 4. There are two types of readiness data provided by MAP Toolkit: Azure VM Readiness and Azure VM Capacity, as depicted in Figure 5.

Inventory and Assessment Wizard
Inventory and Assessment Wizard


Readiness data
Readiness data

The VM Readiness Assessment tool provides a report in Microsoft Excel that includes a summary, as well as the names of the Windows and Linux machines that were inspected during the "collect inventory data" phase, and can be successfully migrated to Microsoft Azure as a VM. The report also shows the current OS running on the machine, if the OS is supported by Azure or not, and machine type, as shown in Figure 6.

Assessment results
Assessment results

Microsoft Azure supports a wide variety of VM sizes. Azure VMs can't exceed 16 cores and can have a maximum of 112 GB memory. The Azure VM Capacity report provides a summary of the sizing requirements to migrate workloads to Windows Azure as VMs. As you can see in Figure 7, MAP Toolkit successfully sized two machines to be migrated to Azure. The Azure VM Capacity report also provides data on the current utilization of the workloads that were inspected during the data collection inventory. This includes utilization data such as CPU, memory, Disk I/O and network utilization.

VM sizing results
VM sizing results

There are non-critical workloads that can be migrated to Microsoft Azure without much planning but just preparing a list of workloads to be migrated to Microsoft Azure is not enough; you would need to do a lot of planning and assessment. With the Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Assessment Readiness tool and the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit, you can plan an effective migration to the Microsoft Azure cloud. While it is true that you should avoid migration of workloads that play a critical role in business continuity, rather than deciding yourself whether to move workloads to cloud or not it is advised to do an assessment using vendor provided tools, and then make any decision after looking at the assessment reports provided by these tools.

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How are you preparing for the move to Azure?