Words to go: Azure migration services

Before Microsoft shops begin to move workloads from on-premises data centers to Azure, they should carefully choose a migration tool to help forge their path.

Most IaaS providers offer migration tools to help users move workloads out of a local data center and into the cloud. Microsoft, which has a large on-premises install base prime for a move to cloud, offers a broad range of these kinds of tools.

But which one is best for your needs? Use this quick cheat sheet on key Azure migration services to weigh your options, and make the right decision.

Azure Migrate: IT teams can use this Azure migration service to assess how their on-premises VMware workloads would perform in Microsoft's public cloud -- before they actually migrate. Users install and run the service on vCenter Server, and then it collects information, such as CPU and memory usage, about their VMs. An IT team can use that information, along with recommendations from Azure Migrate, to choose the best Azure VM type and size for their workloads. In addition, the tool can help enterprises map resource dependencies so they can migrate VMs in the most optimal order, as well as estimate monthly cloud costs.

Azure Site Recovery: While Azure Migrate helps IT teams assess and prepare VMs for a migration to Azure, this service helps them actually make the move. Enterprises can use the service to move on-premises Hyper-V and VMware VMs to Azure and to transfer VMs already on Azure to different cloud regions. The service can also facilitate the migration of Windows instances that run on AWS to Azure.

Azure Database Migration Service: This offering is distinct from other Azure migration services in that it's specifically intended to move on-premises SQL Server databases to Azure SQL databases. The service, which supports SQL Server 2005 through 2017, includes a Data Migration Assistant for recommendations around database performance, reliability and compatibility before migration occurs. It also supports two migration methods: offline, in which application downtime starts when the migration process kicks off; and online, in which downtime occurs post-migration, during the cutover period to the new target database.

Azure Data Box: Azure Data Box is a physical storage appliance that can transfer large volumes of data to the Azure public cloud. Microsoft ships the device, which has a usable storage capacity of up to 80 TB, to users, who then upload their data onto the device. Once that's complete, users ship the hardware back to Microsoft, and the vendor uploads the data to Azure. While this might seem like an old-school approach compared to other Azure migration services on this list, the use of a physical appliance, such as Data Box, can be a faster alternative to migrating large volumes of data via a network connection. In addition to the core Azure Data Box offering, Microsoft offers variations on the device, including Azure Data Box Disk, which comes with an 8 TB solid-state disk; and Azure Data Box Heavy, which comes in a ruggedized form factor and can hold up to 1 petabyte of data.

Azure pricing calculator: While not strictly an Azure migration service, IT shops can use this pricing calculator to estimate what their monthly costs would be for cloud resources before they actually deploy them.

Next Steps

How to migrate from AWS to Azure using Azure Migrate

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