How To Successfully Migrate On-Premises Infrastructure to Azure
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How To Successfully Migrate On-Premises Infrastructure to Azure

A four-step guide to a successful on-premises to Azure migration, including Microsoft frameworks and proven best practices. 

So, you’ve decided that an on-premises to Azure migration is in the best interests of your organisation’s competitiveness, sustainability and budget.  

You’ve undertaken a top-level evaluation and found that some or all servers and workloads are best deployed in Azure. You and your team believe in the benefits and are confident that the project will quickly prove a worthwhile investment. The next step is getting started, which is, of course, easier said than done.

To get your project out of the pipeline and into action, it’s a good idea to follow a combination of Azure frameworks and Managed Service Provider advice, which we’ve detailed below.


When assessing an on-premises to Azure migration, start by familiarising yourself with the Azure Cloud Adoption Framework. The framework was created by Microsoft to provide guidance for each phase of a public cloud adoption journey and is the skeleton on which many a successful Azure migration hinges.

The Azure Cloud Adoption Framework has nine stages:

  1. Getting started, including acceleration and what to avoid
  2. Strategy, including business, finance and technical considerations
  3. Planning, focusing more heavily on technicalities
  4. Readiness – this is where your Azure Landing Zone comes in
  5. Migration, including scenario planning and best practices
  6. Innovation – how to continue driving positive change with Azure
  7. Security, including Azure tools and wider insights
  8. Management, including baselines and improvement strategies
  9. Governance, including Azure specifics

Read more about the Cloud Adoption Framework here and consider it in tandem with our tried-and-tested implementations, which you can read about below.


As a significant business change, with price tags ranging from modest to substantial, sign-off will likely happen at the boardroom table. However, you’ll also need to secure buy-in from the c-suite, so it’s vital to communicate Azure migration cost benefits in concrete financial terms. 

You may not have final project costs at this early buy-in stage, but you can forecast operational expenditure. So, to begin, diligently calculate the direct and indirect cost-efficiencies you’ll find from migrating on-premises infrastructure to Azure. Then, compare against the bottom line and arm yourself with solid explanations of savings analyses.  

Be clear about the associated costs of on-premises. These costs include maintenance, specialised staff, power and cooling, physical security, and licenses or end-of-life expenses. And be equally clear about how these expenses correspond with Azure services and your desired outcomes – it’s essential to present a practical, cost-effective alternative strategy to asset sweating. 

Cost reduction is a familiar on-premises to Azure migration objective. To help build your business case, utilise Azure tools to outline infrastructure, management and maintenance cost reductions. Azure’s Total Cost of Ownership calculator can run these estimates for you. Then, with an Azure consultant delving deep to complete the picture, you can have confidence in your projections. 


An on-premises to Azure migration isn’t just about cost savings – it’s about delivering return on investment. The migration itself will likely require application modernisation, as most on-premises applications cannot retain full functionality when deployed as-is in Azure. There are six established application modernisation approaches, which you can read more about by clicking here.  

Of course, these changes demand time, resources and crucially, Azure-native skills. When you have decided on your modernisation approach, augment your business case and get back in front of the board with ROI projections. You’ll want to maintain constant visibility and communication, not just to stay financially accountable but to benefit from the board’s direction and support as leaders to drive your project to completion.  

If there are a large number of VM based workloads and a 3-year project to achieve the required modernisation, you could also consider an Azure Stack HCI/ Azure Arc approach. This allows you to create a personal Azure region is a private data centre which may work out more cost effective for VM workloads for the transformation period.  


Now that you’ve engaged your leadership team and secured buy-in, it’s time to look deeper.

Assess your on-premises to Azure migration requirements to determine the migration pathway. From experience, Node4 recommends that you undertake the following assessments using the Azure Migrate Evaluation tool, Azure Advisor tool and consultancy support: 

  • An inventory of the exact servers, applications, and servers you want to migrate  
  • On-premises server or workload readiness for migration 
  • Any cross-server or workload dependencies that will be affected by an Azure migration. Interdependency is a core characteristic of on-premises infrastructure  
  • The Azure service model, service tier and tools that you will need  
  • Azure compatibility problems and plans for resolution. The Azure Migrate tool runs these tasks when installed on-premises.  
  • Whether workloads will be phased out, modernised, or migrated without change.  
  • The order you strategically plan to migrate in, bearing in mind that practicalities may have a bearing on this.  
  • Devise your migration approach on an app-by-app basis when the above is assessed  

If followed carefully, the benefits that assessments can bring to your project are significant: 

  • Thoroughly researching and working through this checklist will ensure the lowest-risk on-premises to Azure migration path.  
  • You will have peace of mind that you have accounted for all workloads and functionalities. The threat of disruptive teething problems, or worse, unplanned downtime and reactive maintenance will be minimised.  
  • You will also understand if some workloads are no longer required and see the most cost-effective, high-impact migration path for your business. 


As mentioned, almost all on-premises to Azure migrations will require changes to workloads. Whether this is tinkering with code or going back to the drawing board, the path you choose is one of your most important decisions.  

And your organisation doesn’t need to stick with just the one approach. Re-platforming may work perfectly well for a more modern on-premises app, but a complete rebuild can offer the best value exchange for those enduring legacy solutions.  

As a top-line overview, these are your core migration options: 

  1. Rehosting: You move your legacy application into Azure without modifications. Rehosting is called a “lift and shift” and is considered the bare minimum of migration. 
  1. Replatforming: You make minor changes to workloads but do not alter code, features or functions. 
  1. Refactoring: You make more extensive changes to configurations and code. Refactoring enables virtual machines to be migrated to PaaS environments in Azure. 
  1. Rearchitecting: Code is changed significantly to make an app Azure-native essentially. To use Azure microservices and containers, rearchitecting is necessary. 
  1. Rebuilding: You recreate your on-premises app as an Azure-native app. It has the same scope and specifications but without on-premises restrictions. 
  1. Replacing: As with a rebuild, it sometimes saves money to start over. In this case, you simply walk away from your on-premises app and go for something entirely new.  


With your path forward laid out, begin thinking about how to get the most from your migration.   

After all, migrating from on-premises to Azure is one thing – making the most of the change is another, as the intricacies and considerations often take organisations by surprise.  

Migrating from on-premises to Azure requires optimisations, configurations and management strategies tailored to your business needs, digital transformation roadmap, budget and internal Azure skills.  

Fewer enhancements and more critical functions ensure the continued availability, high performance, agility, scalability and security of your Azure public cloud workloads. Therefore, you’ll want to consider the following priorities once your migration is underway: 

  • Security: Use Azure’s Security Centre to augment your cloud security management. You benefit from a Landing Zone with complete, unified security and compliance tools when deployed via a hybrid model. 
  • Right-Sizing: If using a consumption-based pricing model, try Azure Monitor to understand if your workloads could be resized based on usage metrics. 
  • Cost Control: Explore Azure Advisor to identify inefficiencies in resource use and automate management with features such as autoscaling.  
  • Performance: Use Azure Monitor to view health metrics across your environment, hybrid or otherwise. Azure Monitor will be crucial to monitoring latency-sensitive or mission-critical workloads that previously resided on-premises and ensuring that performance remains optimal. 


Because of the complexity and criticality of on-premises to Azure workload migrations, organisations may prefer to work with a partner. This partner is often a Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Azure Expert MSP, like us at Node4. Read more about Azure Expert MSPs and what makes us different.  

An Azure Expert MSP will have the capability, services, skills, and long-term investment plans to deliver high-value, low-risk Azure migrations. Once completed, their managed solutions and expert consultants can help organisations harness the full benefits of Azure. This includes streamlining management, getting better results from fewer resources and keeping the door open for rapid modernisation.  


Ready to press ahead with an on-premises to Azure migration for some or all of your workloads? Such large rewards don’t come without risk, so make sure you have a perfect-fit project partner in your corner.

For free advice from an experienced Azure Expert MSP, click here to book a no obligation call with Node4 today.