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Just move it to the cloud. It's simple right. However some things are easier said than done. After deciding you are moving to the cloud for your workloads the hard work of moving data comes next. With transitioning to the cloud, the biggest hurdle to overcome is moving all your data. This is the part that takes work with lots of planning and preparation. It is also an understanding that this process in most cases is not an overnight job and can take weeks to months to complete.

 

My inspiration for this blog came from many conversations this year but was heightened from a tweet over the weekend about the use case of a particular Azure product. It became clear to me that there needs to be more discussion on the different methods of data migration and use cases. Of course every organization will have their own sets of requirements and timelines but ultimately your method of migrating data to the cloud will depend on many factors. That's right folks "It Depends".

 

Before you start moving data you have to understand "why" you are doing it and "what" needs to be moved. Once you have answered those questions you can tackle the "how". There are so many options depending on YOUR situation and what is best for your organization. If you choose to refactor your application or use SaaS you may still have existing data you want to migrate into that new service it will still involve moving data. This blog will focus on the different methods to move large amounts of data. By no means is this a full list of every available option but it will get you started to help plan the right strategy.

 

Migrating large amounts of data can be done with the following:

 

Azure data box - The Azure Data Box lets you send terabytes of data into Azure in a quick and reliable way. The secure data transfer is accelerated by shipping you a proprietary Data Box storage device. Each storage device has a maximum usable storage capacity of 80 TB and is transported to your datacenter through a regional carrier.

  • One time migration - when large amount of on-premises data is moved to Azure.
    • Moving a media library from offline tapes into Azure to create an online media library.
    • Migrating your VM farm, SQL server, and applications to Azure
    • Moving historical data to Azure for in-depth analysis and reporting using HDInsight
  • Initial bulk transfer - when an initial bulk transfer is done using Data Box (seed) followed by incremental transfers over the network.
    • For example, backup solutions partners such as Commvault and Data Box are used to move initial large historical backup to Azure. Once complete, the incremental data is transferred via network to Azure storage.
  • Periodic uploads - when large amount of data is generated periodically and needs to be moved to Azure. For example in energy exploration, where video content is generated on oil rigs and windmill farms.

databox.png

 

Azure File Shares - This is a great option to dabble with cloud storage without jumping head first but also great to replicate those all general purpose file server we all have running out there. Azure file shares can be created without the need to manage hardware or an OS and supports SMB so you can seamless replace your on-premises file shares. It can be integrated with Azure AD to continue the consistency of using your security groups for secure access without a lot of disruption to your business. The file shares can be cached on Windows Servers with Azure File Sync which is then synced to the corresponding Azure File Share in Azure.

 

Azure Site Recovery service - yes this says site recovery however it's also a good option to migrate data ( your VMs) into Azure. ASR can replicate your VMware VM's & Hyper-V VMs, Azure Stack VMs and physical servers. It can also migrate Azure VM's between Azure regions and migrate AWS Windows instances to Azure VMs. Since the tool can be used for disaster recovery of your on-premises VMs the steps for data migration defer slightly. For migration into Azure using ASR, you replicate on-premises machines/VMS's to Azure to a secondary region. Then you fail the VM over from the primary site to the secondary, and complete the migration process. There's no failback involved. 

*Note- use for migrating those near End of support Windows Server 2008 servers*

p2azure.JPG

arch-enhanced.png

 

Azure NetApp Files - If you're using NetApp you can take advantage of Azure NetApp Files. The Azure NetApp Files service is a metered file storage service within Azure that provides NFS and SMB volumes. You can migrate data to Azure NetApp Files using NetApp Cloud Sync. This solution enables you to replicate NFS or SMB data to Azure NetApp Files NFS exports or SMB shares or you can use an file based copy tool to get data into the service. For an existing NetApp customer this is an option to extend your environment into the cloud while using similar technology concepts your familiar with. You can create snapshots, resize your volumes and one of my favorite features of using an on-premise NetApp Filer was restoring a snapshot to a new volume which can also be with Azure NetApp Files.

 

The following example shows the relationships of the Azure subscription, NetApp accounts, capacity pools, and volumes.

azure-netapp-files-storage-hierarchy.png

 

 

Backup & Recovery Partner Tools and solutions - Our partner ecosystem is vast with so many options that compliment or enhance our native offerings. These solutions help you migrate your on-premises data using various backup and recovery methods into your Azure subscription. Solutions like this offer ease of transition from existing on-premises infrastructure into the cloud. We have so many partners and I can't list all of them so here are a couple that came to mind for me:

 

*Note- use for migrating those near End of support Windows Server 2008 servers*

 

Cohesity's CloudSpin DataPlatform Edition- With Cohesity's CloudSpin you can spin up on-premises VMs in Azure upon demand that can be activated for use. It works by copying your VM via a policy you create in CloudSpin. The policy takes a copy of the VM, converts that copy into a VHD file then stores the copy in Azure Blob storage. When you're ready to activate the VM you use CloudSpin to "launch" the VM to be an Azure VM. During the launch process you select the type of compute and network type.The launching of the VM converts the VM to an Azure Compute machine.

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Veeam - Veeam offers 3 solutions for Azure. Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 ( Veeam Restore to Microsoft Azure) , the  free Veeam PN for Microsoft Azure and Veeam Cloud Tier . Veeam PN for Microsoft Azure (Veeam Powered Network) is a free solution designed to simplify and automate the setup of a recovery site in Microsoft Azure using lightweight, software-defined networking (SDN). The solution utilizes Azure Blog storage to store the backup of your on-premises data and VM's which then give you the ability to restore that workload in Azure. The Veeam Cloud Tier is a great way to make backup storage unlimited to Azure. The Cloud Tier solution allows Veeam backup storage to be transparently extended to Azure for long term retention. 

 

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To the Cloud...

As I mentioned before there are various methods for moving your data into the cloud. It all depends on your requirements and timelines. The above solutions can help you determine the best method for your migration into the cloud.