Microsoft Cloud Economics Assessment and best practices before you migrate

Our 5th Azure User Group meeting was about the Microsoft Cloud Economics Assessment and was kindly held at Charles Russell Speechly’s head office in London. We had some new faces join the group which is always great and gives different perspectives on the challenges faced in the journey to cloud.
Microsoft Cloud Economics Assessments - Azure User Group

The meeting started with an update from The SAM Club and how we are evolving our services to support our customers as they consider the move towards Azure. The SAM Club is working towards becoming a Silver Partner with Microsoft to enable us to complete an Azure assessment to help our customers with their decision process and assessing tools such as Movere and Azure Migrate that are available. With Movere, we are considering becoming a partner to enable The SAM Club to be fully trained on the product and we will provide a separate blog on these tools in due course.

Microsoft update and key trends

Zephaniah Chukwudum, Sr. Product Marketing Manager (Azure Data & AI), Microsoft

Our first guest speaker from Microsoft talked about some of the key trends in the marketplace. Digital Transformation is the focus for Microsoft, enabling employees internally and customers externally with technology. Professional Services (such as law) are in the Top 3 priority sectors for the Microsoft Azure team. Zeph talked about the ‘Digital feedback loop’ and how operations impact services within an organisation, which loops to employees and customers – all are pinned by data and intelligence. Microsoft aim to help organisations take the mass of data they have and to enable them to use it rather than it be locked up in a database somewhere.

There will be a rise in native app developers as employees using data come up with ways to automate processes with AI. Zeph mentioned that since 2014 there has been a 6X increase in the investment into AI by companies based on research by Deloitte. AI capabilities are now being integrated as standard into cloud-based software, so smart insights are available to organisations in the cloud.

Microsoft Cloud Economics Assessment

Lewis Crawford, Engagement Manager in the Cloud Economic Assessment Team, Microsoft

The Cloud Economics Team at Microsoft are able to provide customers with an investment into their business of circa £15k which enables customers to benefit from a full scoping assessment of their entire IT infrastructure by breaking this down into a costing analysis, server optimisation analysis, workload/application identification, workload prioritisation for migration and also recommendations for mapping current infrastructure into Azure. Providing a universal view of infrastructure on premise and in the cloud, utilising the ARC scan (Actual Resource Consumption) within the assessment tool enables the delivery of an extensive analysis of what a customer’s infrastructure will look like in Azure, once right-sized and optimised, resulting in the additional benefit of large cost savings.

To qualify for the assessment there are two criteria:
• Executive / board level sponsorship to start cloud journey
• Cloud transition plan – compelling reason to move (EOS services / contract renewal)

The Assessment gives insight into
• Scope of Server count
• SQL and Windows Server EOS status footprint
• Outline of servers to remain on prem, decommission and migrate to cloud

Categorisation of in scope servers by workload type and detailed prioritisation of workloads and apps that would benefit from migrating to cloud. The assessment provides an in-depth analysis in order to create a business case for internal communications and to aid decision making with wider teams, board members and C level individuals.

The process looks like this:
Microsoft Cloud Economics Assessment - process flow
It is advised that the 30-day process includes an end of month or end or end of quarter process for the 2 week scan, to obtain accurate peaks and troughs for the analysis to help with right sizing for the cloud. Maybe starting during the last week of the month. It is possible to run the scan for longer, but applications like Movere are licensed on a 30 day basis which includes the time to analyse the data.

The analysis can then be used to support the business case for moving to Azure and can consider areas such as:
• Servers at end of support
• Hardware older than 3 years
• Non-Production environments
• Lowest utilized production servers
• High end always on production servers

An area that can bring large cost savings is if you have existing licensing for Servers and SQL under Enterprise agreement with SA is the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit – which means you don’t pay twice for these licences when migrating to cloud as it is factored into the pricing.

The Azure Calculator is a useful resource for looking at costings, you can analyse cost savings with the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit, Reserved Instances* (RI) which dependant on VM size can offer savings of between 10% and 70% seen from an end user perspective.

*An Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instance (RI) is a virtual machine (VM) on the Microsoft Azure public cloud that has been reserved for dedicated use on a one- or three- year basis.

It is possible to cancel an Azure Reserved VM Instance at any time (up to £37,265.45 per year). Cancelling allows you to return the remaining months of an Azure Reserved VM Instance back to Microsoft for an early termination fee of 12 percent. The remaining prorated balance, minus the fee, is then refunded via the original purchase. Alternatively, the Azure Reserved VM Instance could be reused or exchanged for use with another Azure Reserved VM Instance.

There are different levels of discount per VM size and some VM’s are not offered with this discount but the report at the end of the Cloud Assessment will detail costs of 3-year RI with AHUB (Azure Hybrid Use Benefit) so you can see which servers to optimise in the cloud.

Support is offered early in the process of moving to Azure, so even if your organisation is in the early stages of needing to present the ROI case to the board Microsoft Cloud Assessments can be carried out.

Round table Discussion

First, we heard from a legal client who has already made the transition to Azure in 2017. End of life was the reason for migration, and they had adopted Net Documents so it seemed the time to do it and they used a lift and shift approach into the cloud. As they found that SQL Paas was not supported by a lot of vendors pivotal to the legal sector, they over optimised servers initially. The exercise was less about cost saving on migration, but over time they have optimised server usage by monitoring them in Azure. Optimisation is the plan going forward and they are looking at Reserved Instances for further cost savings.

Initially, they said that regarding TCO – they saved a bit on the running costs, but they saved a lot on hardware, support and services that the hardware refresh would have incurred.

Vendors in the legal sector need educating on SQL

A major concern from the room was around the main Vendors when it comes to specifying the servers for their products. The room stated that these are often appeared to be over spec’d and for on premise servers which they are forced to follow due to the vendors support terms. When purchasing new software from a Vendor, their server spec is all that is available and using the Azure calculator the costs are considered too high. Microsoft also recognised this and are working with SI’s and vendors to help educate them. Microsoft suggested that as a group we identify and advise them on 10 vendors that can be investigated.

Discussion on next topic and host

Ideas for the next meeting were discussed and some topics suggested were:
• Panel of peers to discuss their experience migrating to Azure and challenge Microsoft
• Microsoft and iManage to present the way to the cloud
• Azure Sentinal – Intelligent security analytics

The next meeting date and location is to be confirmed for mid-September

You can find blog articles from our previous events here:
Azure User Group meeting
Azure User Group meeting 2 Dev /Test
Azure User Group meeting 3 Security & Compliance
Azure AI Chatbots is the hype justified?

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