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Migrating customers to the Microsoft Cloud – Key Considerations

We hope by now that many MSPs have taken the Microsoft Cloud opportunity seriously. According to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, more than 85% of Fortune 500 companies are using Azure today. Yet, many larger and more complex organisations still struggle with the burdens of ageing on-premises infrastructure and legacy business applications.

As a Managed Services Provider (“MSP”), your role is instrumental in helping transform organisations to the cloud. The benefit is most certainly a win-win situation for both you and your end-customers. Microsoft partners will benefit from the various incentives that Microsoft has put in place to encourage partners to adopt the Microsoft Cloud. In terms of your end-customers, adopting the cloud will help them reduce the total cost of ownership of running their business applications, while taking advantage of new and cutting-edge cloud technologies.

Key questions you may be contemplating might be: What are the benefits, or how do you start? Here’s a few considerations to help you get going.

1. Benefit from Microsoft Partner Incentives

Many of you will already be familiar with the new Microsoft Incentives that were introduced in late 2019. Microsoft is attempting to consolidate within the channel and encourage partners to re-sell Azure through large distributors such as Ingram Micro, D&H Distributing or Tech Data. By doing so, Microsoft rewards partners with a range of incentives including:

  • One-time cost incentives for re-selling azure
  • Percentages of revenue for subscription to SQL and Windows Server
  • Rebates for Reserved Instances

By taking advantage of these benefits, MSPs can already start benefiting from the cloud. This is a ‘no brainer’ preparation step to consider before migrating customers.

2. Adopt ‘lift and shift’ migration patterns for end-customer deployments

Numerous vendors on the market, including Microsoft themselves, have made it much more feasible to ‘copy and paste’ an existing end-customer’s environment and deploy it to the cloud. For many Microsoft partners, this approach is much more straightforward: Clients retain the same application setup they have grown used to, while you spend less time re-configuring security settings, drive mappings, and so on. This is a simple solution to shift customers to the cloud quickly, enabling you to benefit from incentives early on.

3. Take advantage of autoscaling and provisioning capabilities

Moving end-customer environments to the cloud via ‘lift and shift’ will only benefit the client so far. To maximize the investment in cloud technology, partners need to take advantage of cloud design principles such as ‘autoscaling’ and ‘automated provisioning’.

For example, if your end-customer is running a traditional 9-5 business, it makes sense to reduce the size of Virtual Machines (“VMs”) outside of office hours to help keep overheads down. A second example might include automatically provisioning or releasing VMs depending on periods of high demand, e.g. peak shopping hours or one-off sales periods.

Taking advantage of this will help keep your cloud overheads down and enable you to pass on more value to your end-customers.

4. Re-think application design principles

To truly benefit from the power of the cloud, Microsoft partners should re-think how they approach their client environments and business applications.

In typical ‘lift and shift’ deployments, a configuration issue or an infrastructure design flaw such as an Database I/O bottleneck or storage latency issue would simply be replicated in the cloud. Therefore, it makes sense to review the available cloud technologies to help alleviate these challenges.

Take for example a specific DB I/O issue. If your client is experiencing high number of read requests, consider leveraging database caching technology like Azure Cache for Redis. A second example might be utilizing object storage, e.g. Blob Storage to help create high availability and low latency file storage solutions, instead of a more traditional fileserver.

Taking this further, you may consider newer technologies such serverless/edge computing or containerization to help increase application performance as well as maintainability.

Learn more about how you can accelerate your Microsoft Cloud adoption by reading our Azure Cheat Sheet Whitepaper.

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