Your migration to Azure: Like building a new house

Your migration to Azure is like building a new house: There are many choices and constraints.

Jonathan Heywood Jonathan Heywood

A little over two years ago, my wife and I decided to build a house. That is a big decision for anyone to make, especially at the beginning of a global pandemic.

We focused our attention on the big-picture aspects of the project: budget, layout, design, delivery schedule, selling our old house, where to live during the build. Above all, we looked forward to how we would enjoy it when it’s finished. Like most people, we didn’t consider every single detail we might encounter, every small decision we would have to make along the way. We trusted the fact that we are not the first people to do this, and we would not hit any showstoppers that we could not overcome.

This is much like how many companies, possibly even yours, make a strategic choice to “move to the cloud.” You probably made the decision based on the big picture of costs and benefits, without exhaustively exploring the impact on every application and business process. You picked a cloud provider like Microsoft Azure, similar to how we chose our architect and building contractor – one that you trusted to deliver a solid basis for at least the coming decades.

Our house project

With our house project, once it got underway, we realized there were a lot of decisions we had to make:

  • MUST-change: Here in the Netherlands, the government is encouraging the transition to renewable energy sources by prohibiting new houses from using natural gas for heating, despite a perfectly good gas main running right past our house. So, we were forced to learn all about heat pumps and decide whether we wanted an air-source or ground-source heat pump.
  • SHOULD-change: Our previous house was built in the 1950s and had conventional electric wiring – power flows from the fuse box to each light-switch (or dimmer) and from there to the light fittings in the ceiling. The heating system only had a single thermostat in the living room, and we didn’t even have a ventilation system or a security system. We could have chosen conventional wiring for our new house – and indeed that is still the norm for new houses here. But, with a blank canvas, this was the ideal opportunity to start from scratch and wire the house to be ready for the future – with a highly integrated, reliable home automation system. It would be one where every light switch is dynamic and programmable, and can control lights, ventilation, heating, security and home entertainment. That requires a completely different wiring scheme and the only time to get it right is when the house is first built – as it’s almost impossible to retrofit.
  • DON’T-WANT-TO-change: Building a house is expensive, you can’t afford to buy everything new at once – including all appliances, furniture, cars, etc. So, we had to (and wanted to) keep some of these items, which meant making sure they fit in the new house (both space-wise and aesthetically). As we replace appliances when they break, we will buy network-connected models, ones that can be triggered to run when the sun is shining, and we have surplus power coming from our solar panels. And we’ve already prepared the power system in the house for the inevitable electric vehicle that will come in the future.

Your cloud project

As you peel the layers off your strategic plans to move to Microsoft Azure and dive into the details, you will also face a similar set of choices and constraints:

  • MUST-change: Many software vendors are ceasing support for self-hosted versions of their apps, so adopting software-as-a-service (SaaS) versions is inevitable. This creates new islands of data, outside the walls of your traditional data center. This in turn brings a whole new set of challenges integrating that data with other business apps and processes. And government regulation on personal privacy and data sovereignty adds to the complexity of how and where data can be stored and processed. These drive the things you must do as you migrate to the cloud.
  • SHOULD-change: Moving to the cloud is about moving forwards, not replacing like-for-like. With the changes you are doing anyway, now is the perfect time to rethink your “wiring plan” and set up a platform that will integrate and expose data and apps in a way that is ready for the coming years (and decades). If you don’t do it now, you may never do it, as you will have invested once again in a decades-old way of doing things that is just not fit for a modern truly connected world.
  • DON’T-WANT-TO-change: You have legacy – every company does. You will have apps and systems that you simply can’t move to the cloud because they are old. Maybe nobody knows how they work, or there is the attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And there may be legacy that you don’t want to change (yet). But you will still need to include that legacy in your new cloud-centric world; integrate it, access its data, maybe for years to come.

You can see the similarities between building a new house and moving your company’s IT infrastructure to the cloud. Like us, you will need to make choices that will support both the old world and the new world. At the heart of that is keeping data and applications connected, integrated and accessible as they move from the old world to the new world.

For most companies the to-be situation will not be 100% cloud, so having a fully-hybrid integration and API platform is the best way to ensure you can successfully navigate to the cloud and emerge stronger and more agile, not regretting the opportunities you missed along the way.

I hope you end up as comfortable and proud in your new “cloud” as we are in our new house.

And along with the house, how about a webinar covering all you need to know about keeping your apps connected during the shift to Azure? Click below to see more!