Hybrid IT and virtualized workloads: How to prepare for a shift to Microsoft Azure

  • 24/03/2021

Though government agencies continue to move to the cloud to accelerate their digital transformation plans, the vast majority have embraced a hybrid IT environment. This mix of both on-premises and cloud implementations highlights the need for comprehensive, full-stack visibility across the entire hybrid IT environment.

Why the need for such a broad view? Without it, agencies may not be able to see their cloud environment as clearly as they see what’s in the data center. Additionally, agencies may be less aware of how much they’re spending, and current tools may not provide full coverage all the way from the data center to the cloud.

In a nutshell, agencies need the ability to monitor and manage IT resources across hybrid and multi-cloud environments of any scale and size.

While agencies are choosing various cloud partners, we’re focusing this article on what the federal IT pro needs to know about migrating to and monitoring Microsoft Azure deployments.

Migration strategies

When migrating to a cloud environment, it’s best to take an “improve then move” approach rather than the more common “lift and shift.” The former prompts the agency to identify and clean out under-provisioned assets that will never perform as needed as well as over-provisioned or abandoned virtual machines.

This is particularly important in an Azure environment. Azure uses a VM fail-safe measure: If a customer deletes a VM, Azure doesn’t automatically delete the associated disks, in case the deletion was in error or the customer needs to reinitiate the VM. As a result, there’s the potential for rogue disks, which can take up gigabytes (or more) of unnecessary storage space.

Monitoring and cost management

Within Azure, Microsoft charges by resource consumption. Combine this fact with the opportunity for virtually unlimited and near-instantaneous capacity, and controlling the agency’s cloud spend may be a challenge. The key is to find a tool, or set of tools, to provide a direct connection between costs and associated usage, hardware, etc. This strategy will help agencies concerned with not knowing how much they’re spending on cloud operations.

IT pros should also keep in mind that while Microsoft assures availability of the Azure platform, it’s up to the customer to ensure applications hosted within Azure infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) are available and performing. This requires end-to-end visibility across the entire hybrid IT environment.

Even if the government IT team has the Azure environment under control, there are likely a vast array of IT resources running in other clouds and on-premises. The key is to manage them all through single solution providing a unified view of all resources.

Agencies should look for a tool they can use to monitor Azure Services, Azure App Service, and custom applications through transaction tracing, code profiling and exception tracking. Additionally, they should consider a tool to help ensure the agency’s IaaS-deployed or Azure PaaS databases are performing optimally with cross-platform database performance optimization and tuning.

It’s also important that end users can successfully access Azure-based applications. IT pros can better understand user concerns by automatically testing end-user experience from both inside the organization and outside the firewall and assess the health of network paths between Azure-deployed applications and end users.

Moving to an Azure cloud environment is a sound investment for any agency. The key is to ensure the agency is being efficient in its move and saving money rather than simply moving what’s already in place and paying for unnecessary or unused resources. Agencies that track resources and track costs should see smooth sailing -- and money saved.