Migrating to Azure: from motivations to a successful business case

Moving to the cloud can definitely lead to cost savings, more effective use of resources and improved performance. However, the question to ask yourself before tackling a migration path is: “why move to the cloud?”. The answer to this question is not trivial and often coincides with: “our board of directors (or the CIO) told us to move to the cloud”. In the face of a response of this type it is appropriate to turn on an alarm bell as it could be more difficult to achieve the expected results. This article discusses some of the reasons behind migrating to the cloud that can help drive more successful business outcomes, and what elements and tools to consider to support building a complete business case..

Motivations for moving to the cloud

The motivations that can drive the business transformations supported by the adoption of the cloud can be different. To help generate ideas about what motivations may be relevant, I report the following table, where there is a subdivision between the main classifications:

Critical Business Events Migration Innovation
Data center exit

Mergers, acquisitions or divestments

Reduction of capital expenses

End of support for mission critical technologies

Respond to regulatory compliance changes

New data sovereignty requirements

Reduce outages and improve the stability of your IT environment

Report and manage the environmental impact of your business

Cost savings

Reduction of technical or vendor complexity

Optimization of internal operations

Increase business agility

Preparation for new technical capabilities

Scalability to meet market demands

Scalability to meet geographic needs

Integration of a complex IT portfolio

Preparation for new technical capabilities

Creation of new technical capabilities

Scalability to meet market demands

Scalability to meet geographic needs

Improved customer experience and engagement

Processing of products or services

Market disruption with new products or services

Democratization and/or self-service environments

Table 1 – Top reasons for adopting the cloud

It is likely that different motivations for cloud adoption will apply at the same time and fall into different classifications..

To guide the development of your cloud adoption strategy it is recommended to use the predominant classification between: critical business events, migration and innovation. These motivations must then be shared and discussed with the stakeholders, corporate executives and leaders. In this way it is possible to favor the successful adoption of cloud solutions within the company.

How to accelerate migration

Often the migration it is the first step that leads to the adoption of cloud solutions. In this regard it is useful to follow the "Migrate" methodology defined in the Cloud Adoption Framework, which outlines the strategy to perform a cloud migration.

This guide, after aligning stakeholders on motivations and expected business outcomes advises clients to establish the right partnerships to get the necessary support throughout the entire migration process.

The next step involves data collection and an analysis of the assets and workloads to be migrated. This step must lead to the development of a business case regarding cloud migration with the aim of ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned on a simple question: “based on available data, cloud adoption is a wise business decision?".

If so, you can continue with the next steps detailed in the guide and which provide:

  • Creating a migration plan
  • The preparation of the necessary skills
  • The activation and configuration of the Landing Zone
  • The migration of the first workloads to Azure
  • The implementation of cloud governance and operations management

Creating Business Cases: key elements, tools and calculators

A business case provides an overall view on the technical and financial timing of the analyzed environment. The development of a business case must necessarily include the creation of a financial plan that takes into account the technical aspects and is in line with business results.

There are several key components to consider when making a business case, among these we find:

  • Scope of the environment
  • Basic financial data
  • On-premises cost scenario: needs to predict what on-premises costs will be if you don't migrate to the cloud.
  • Azure cost scenario: cost forecast in case of cloud migration.
  • Migration Timeline

A business case is not just a momentary view, but it must be a plan covering a defined time period. As a last step, it is useful to compare the cloud environment with an on-premises scenario or with the status quo, so you can evaluate the data benefits of migrating to the cloud.

To support the preparation of a business case for cloud migration you need to use tools and calculators. Microsoft provides several, described in the following paragraphs.

Azure Migrate

Azure Migrate is the service in Azure that includes a large portfolio of tools that you can use, through a guided experience, to address effectively the most common migration scenarios.

Azure Migrate recently introduced the feature for creating Business case which helps build propositions to understand how Azure can drive the most value. Indeed, this solution allows you to evaluate the return on investment regarding the migration of server systems to Azure, of SQL Server deployments and ASP.NET web applications running in a VMware environment. The business case can be easily created and can provide useful elements to evaluate:

  • Your on-premises total cost of ownership compared to Azure.
  • Information based on resource usage, to identify ideal servers and workloads for the cloud and recommendations for right sizing in Azure.
  • The benefits for migration and modernization, including the end of support for Windows and SQL versions.
  • The long-term savings of moving from a capital expenditure model to an operating expenditure model, paying only for what you use.

Azure Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator

The Azure TCO calculator can be used to estimate the cost savings that can be achieved by migrating workloads to Azure. Entering the details of the on-premise infrastructure (server, database, storage and networking, as well as the licensing assumptions and costs) the calculator is able to match Azure services by showing a high level TCO comparison. However, the results of the Azure TCO calculator should be considered carefully, as by adopting Azure optimization measures can be taken and therefore it may not be exhaustive.

Azure Pricing Calculator

The Azure Pricing Calculator can be used to estimate monthly costs for Azure solutions.

Azure VM cost estimator

This is a Power BI model that helps you estimate Azure savings, compared to the pay-as-you-go rate, adopting the offers and benefits of Azure for virtual machines, such as Azure Hybrid Benefit and the reserved instances.

Conclusions

Identifying the motivations, conducting an assessment and building a business case are essential elements to build a functional cloud adoption strategy and to adopt a successful migration plan.

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