Client migration from on-premises to Azure
FirstFound, a mid-sized company in the digital services, had been utilising on-premises VMware servers to host their business applications and services. Their current hardware was coming to the end of its supported life and they also had an increasing need for scalability, flexibility, and remote work options.
With a planned office move, FirstFound decided to remove the need for a server room to make the transition as simple as possible and they asked Greystone to help them migrate their entire server estate to the cloud and asked us to design and implement the migration for them.
Reduce costs associated with maintaining and upgrading their on-premises servers.
Improve availability for their servers to support their geographically distributed workforce.
Provide employees with seamless access to their work environment from any location, ensuring business continuity during unprecedented events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tight time frames
Due to an ideal office space becoming available, the deadline for the migration was reduced from one year to three months. This resulted in the planning and migration having to be completed in a much tighter time frame than originally foreseen.
FirstFound has been in business for 20 years and has accrued a lot of technical debt with some systems needing to be re-engineered or re architected before they could be moved into the cloud.
A substantial network re architecture needed to take place due to the complexity of the existing systems.
Assessment and Planning
A thorough assessment of the existing infrastructure, including the VMware environment, Networking, and Firewalls, was conducted to identify dependencies, resource utilisation, and application compatibility. Migration goals, including cost reduction, increased availability, and work-from-home enablement, were defined. A detailed migration plan was developed, outlining the migration sequence, required resources, and estimated timelines.
Azure Migration Service
The Azure Migration service was utilised to streamline the migration process, allowing for seamless movement of VMware virtual machines to Azure Virtual Machines.
Servers that couldn’t be migrated using the Azure migration service had a new server created using infrastructure as code tooling in Azure and the data/services migrated manually to the new server.
Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) Implementation
FirstFound’s remote desktop infrastructure was transitioned to Azure Virtual Desktop offering a more robust and scalable solution. Azure Virtual Desktop was configured to provide secure access to business applications and services from any device and location. Policies and permissions were set up to manage user access and enhance security.
Through an innovative and adaptive approach, Greystone has helped FirstFound in demonstrating its commitment to excellence and showcase its ability to thrive in a rapidly evolving business landscape.
Switching from Capex to Opex
The migration to Azure allowed FirstFound to shift from a capital expenditure (Capex) model to an operational expenditure (Opex) model. Previously, they had to invest significant upfront capital in purchasing and maintaining on-premises servers, storage, and networking equipment. This resulted in substantial costs being incurred upfront, potentially impacting cash flow and financial flexibility.
By moving to Azure, FirstFound could leverage a pay-as-you-go pricing model, where they only paid for the resources, they consumed. Azure’s flexible pricing options, such as reserved instances and spot instances, further optimised costs, allowing the client to take advantage of cost savings based on their specific workload requirements.
The upfront savings on not renewing existing hardware where in the region of 25% of the 5-year TCO, and then the year-on-year savings of approx. 30-35% per year for the next 5 years due to savings on licensing, power, and backup costs.
Increased Availability for Remote Desktop Servers
Azure Virtual Desktop provided FirstFound with improved availability and scalability for its remote desktop servers. The highly available and load-balanced Azure infrastructure ensured uninterrupted access to business applications and services, enhancing productivity.
The migration to Azure and the implementation of Azure Virtual Desktop enabled seamless work-from-home capabilities for employees. With secure remote access to their work environment, employees could continue their tasks from any location, ensuring business continuity during disruptions.
By migrating to Azure and downsizing their on-premises infrastructure they reduced the need for physical server rooms and associated cooling, power, and maintenance costs contributed to long-term cost efficiencies.
Availability and Backups
Microsoft’s Azure platform offers higher availability and resiliency than on-premises infrastructure due to the economies of scale. Azure Backup was also configured to ensure regular backups and data protection for the Azure VMs and business data.
The migration from on-premises based system to Azure, utilising Azure migration services, Azure Virtual Machines, and Azure Virtual Desktop, enabled FirstFound to achieve significant benefits. These included cost savings on through infrastructure rightsizing, increased availability for remote desktop servers with Azure Virtual Desktop, and improved work-from-home capabilities. Additionally, FirstFound experienced enhanced business continuity due to higher availability of their servers and multi-regional backups. The successful migration to Azure positioned FirstFound for scalability, flexibility, and improved operational efficiency in the cloud environment.
“Transitioning to the cloud with Greystone’s guidance was nothing short of transformational. Despite a tight three-month timeframe, their team ensured a smooth, hassle-free migration. The cost savings were immediate, and the enhanced system availability and robust work-from-home solutions were invaluable. Thanks to Greystone, we’re reaping the benefits of the cloud while avoiding its complexities”
Chris Bellamy, Managing Director, FirstFound