Effortlessly Migrate Your VMWare Workloads with Azure Migrate

Copper Contributor

VMWare is one of the most popular server virtualization solution broadly adopted in many on-premises data centers. With the increasing cloud adoption nowadays, it is very common for enterprises to have the need to migrate VMWare-based workloads to public cloud such as Microsoft Azure.

Migrating your applications and services to the cloud can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and resources, it can be made much simpler. Previously, the company I worked at helped a supply chain company migrate hundreds of VMWare servers to Microsoft Azure and another public cloud. The whole project involves extensive use of Azure Migrate, which is a service is designed to help businesses move their existing workloads to the Azure cloud.


Azure Migrate provides a comprehensive solution for assessing and migrating VMware virtual machines to Azure. With Azure Migrate, you can discover, assess, and migrate your on-premises applications, infrastructure, and data to Azure. I would like to share our overall migration methodology, which consists of two distinct stages, namely assessment and planning, and actual migration.




Stage 1: Assessment and Planning
Before you can migrate your virtual machines to Azure, you need to assess your current infrastructure to determine which workloads are suitable for migration. Azure Migrate simplifies this process by providing a unified platform for discovering and assessing your VMware virtual machines.

With Azure Migrate, you can discover your VMware virtual machines, and assess their compatibility with Azure. The service provides a comprehensive assessment of your infrastructure, including VM configuration, dependencies, and performance. This information helps you identify any issues that may arise during migration and provides a roadmap for successful migration.


Stage 2: Actual Migration
Once you have assessed your virtual machines and identified any issues, you can begin the migration process. Azure Migrate simplifies this process by providing a unified platform for migrating your VMware virtual machines to Azure.

The migration process is designed to be non-disruptive, so your users can continue to work without interruption. Azure Migrate provides a variety of migration options, including agentless migration, agent-based migration, and self-service migration. You can choose the migration option that best suits your needs.

During the migration process, Azure Migrate replicates your virtual machines to Azure, and then performs a cut-over to the Azure environment. The service provides continuous monitoring and replication to ensure a seamless migration.


Technical Steps – Derived from Our Migration Experience


Here are the technical steps we discovered during our own migration journey, to help you navigate the process at ease.

  1. Server Discovery
    1. Supports migration from VMWare / Hyper-V / physical server
    2. For VMWare / Hyper-V
      1. Deploy a migration appliance (VM image) in the hypervisor environment
      2. Input vCenter / Hyper-V hosts credential & connection info to establish the connection to the on-prem environment
    3. For Physical server
      1. Install the Azure Migrate appliance on any server with connectivity to all servers to be migrated
      2. Input IP address and credential of each server one by one
    4. The appliance will start collecting data including server IP, OS, hardware specification, software inventory, performance data, dependency data and app & db configuration data
    5. The server inventory will be available on Azure Portal (Azure Migrate)
  2. Migration Assessment
    1. Azure Migrate supports migration assessment for migration to Azure VM, Azure SQL, Azure App Service and Azure VMWare Solution
    2. Assessment can be created for a single server for a group of servers. Several options to be selected when creating assessment:
      • Sizing Criteria:
        • Performance-based (recommended for potential cost-saving) : Recommend the sku based on the actual utilization of CPU, Memory and Disk
        • As-is on-premises: Recommend the sku based on the on-premises VM / Server size
      • Performance History:  the data duration on which you want to base the assessment (recommend at least 1 week to capture the utilization of the server in different time e.g. peak / non-peak)
      • Percentile Utilization:  the percentile value you want to use for the performance sample
      • Comfort factor: The buffer reserved for additional resources to cater for spikes such as seasonal peak
    3. Let the assessment tool run for the during set for performance history
    4. After some time, the assessment report will be available for viewing, and contain the following information
      • Azure readiness
        • Ready for Azure: Used when Azure Migrate recommends a VM size and cost estimates, for VMs in the assessment.
        • Ready with conditions: Shows issues and suggested remediation.
        • Not ready for Azure: Shows issues and suggested remediation.
        • Readiness unknown: Used when Azure Migrate can't assess readiness, because of data availability issues.
      • Monthly cost estimation
      • Monthly storage cost estimation
        • The above two are calculated based on the VM size and disk size recommend by Azure Migrate
  3. Migration
    1. Agentless Migration can be conducted if Azure Migration appliance is deployed to VMWare environment
    2. As the server inventory has been discovered in step 1 already, the servers available for migration will show up automatically
    3. Before performing actual migration, need to replicate the server to Azure. Configure the target setting of the VM post-migration, including subscription, resource group, virtual network, subnet, availability zone if applicable, disk encryption, VM size, disk size and resource tag
    4. Azure Portal will show the replication status. When the status is "Delta Sync", it means the initial replication has completed and you can trigger test migration and actual migration.
    5. Running a test migration checks that migration will work as expected, without impacting the on-premises machines, which remain operational, and continue replicating. Test migration simulates the migration by creating an Azure VM using replicated data. This allows you to validate the migration approach such as checking whether the server boots normally, conducting application testing and connectivity testing. After the test is done, you can clean up the test migration to delete the Azure VM created temporarily
    6. After you've verified that the test migration works as expected, you can proceed to actual migration. When prompted the option "Shut down virtual machines and perform a planned migration with no data loss", select "Yes" if you have confirmed that the on-premises server can be shut down. Select "No" if you prefer to have both on-premises and Azure servers running concurrently for a transitional period but you will have to manually synchronize the data between both servers.
    7. After the migration is done, click Complete migration on Azure Migrate. This stops replication for the on-premises machine and cleans up replication state information for the VM.


In summary, Azure Migrate provides a comprehensive solution for assessing and migrating VMware virtual machines to Azure. With its assessment and planning features, as well as its actual migration capabilities, Azure Migrate simplifies the migration process and helps businesses move to the cloud with ease



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