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As we all adjust to remote and hybrid work, organizations big and small are leveraging cloud solutions to facilitate collaboration, stay productive, and ensure business continuity. Concerns about app compatibility is in the top 5 reasons for delays in cloud migration projects. We’ve begun a private preview of a new capability inside Azure Migrate to help organizations complete their Azure migrations successfully. Whether the migration is a simple lift and shift to Azure or includes optimizations like upgrading to a newer Windows Server OS version, this service will help identify potential app compatibility concerns that may arise to get organizations migrated more quickly and with fewer surprises.
Why app assessment for Windows Server?
A migration isn’t complete until all the apps and workloads are working correctly in Azure. Today this is a laborious and time-consuming process that can take months. We’ve talked with customers to understand their pain points in this process including:
- Manual app inventory is time consuming. Customers create scripts to take stock of all apps running across their server estate and create complicated spreadsheets in an effort to sort out which are critical to migrate first, whether they work properly today, who’s using them and why, and if they even need to be migrated at all.
- Validating apps in pilot migrations further slows down the migration. App owners may not be known, installation media for older apps may not even exist anymore, and validation and investigation of issues is all manual. If a critical app can’t be validated, portions of the migration may be canceled altogether.
- App issues can occur from moving to the cloud itself or from Windows Server OS version upgrades done in concert with a migration. For example, even small changes in network latency can impact an app’s function, and apps that assume a static environment for example with hard-coded IP addresses can fail entirely post-migration. A Windows Server version upgrade can also affect apps, leaving organizations to trade off a smoother migration against getting access to the latest Windows server features.
How app assessment solves problems
Today Azure Migrate performs discovery to create an inventory of servers, network usage and other performance metrics but doesn’t provide any information whether applications found in the on premises environment will work when migrated to Azure in a similar or different version of windows. App assessment will add an additional Compat Readiness step into the standard migration workflow to address those pain points organizations experience today when migrating apps to the cloud.
We have built the initial experience to begin to address the pain points organizations are experiencing and are making it available for the first time in private preview. Today the experience will allow organizations to:
- Get a detailed application inventory from on premises servers. The service will support Windows Server versions from 2008R2 SP1 to 2019.
- Get a risk evaluation for all discovered applications. Today the service will be able to provide risk assessments for commercially available apps from Microsoft and other app developers. The service will discover an organization’s internal Line of Business apps but may not be able to provide a risk assessment for them. Risk evaluations can be generated for any supported target Windows Server version.
- Recalculate an assessment after remediations have been applied to reassess the status of the apps.
With these initial capabilities organizations will be able to create individualized migration plans for apps based on their compatibility status including working with the app developer to address issues or upgrade to a newer, supported version for the target Windows Server version.
Key app assessment features
An assessment can be created for any group of VMs in the estate. Once created, the assessment can be viewed by apps or by servers to aid in understanding the results of the risk assessment and work toward being ready to migrate a group of servers.
Here we can see that 43 apps have been discovered across the machines in this assessment. They’re grouped by their readiness:
- Ready: 31 have no known compatibility risks and are ready to migrate.
- Ready with conditions: 7 are known to work in Azure on the target Windows Server version but something in the specific configuration may cause an issue.
- Not ready: 4 have known compatibility issues with either the cloud environment or the target Windows Server version.
- Readiness unknown: the service has no readiness information for 1 app in this environment. This may be because it’s an internal LOB app that is not used outside this organization.
The app inventory alone has saved weeks or months of manual work. Adding the risk assessment allows the organization to focus their efforts on apps which may have issues and minimize effort validating apps which are known to work well in the target environment.
Once all issues have been addressed in an environment, the assessment can be recalculated. When everything is green, the migration can proceed with confidence that those flagged app risks have been addressed.
We are customer obsessed and eager to learn from real organizations using this new capability and use their feedback to improve with refinements and new capabilities.
We’re also already at work building more functionality that we know will be important to help organizations make the most of this new workflow. First up, we’ll help keep track of the apps we discover in an environment and save key metadata about them. This removes the need to keep a separate spreadsheet to track metadata such as apps that have been validated, what issues were found, and whether they have been investigated and resolved. It will be possible to track all this from within the service so effort can focus on the migration work and not tracking app metadata.
If you’re interested in joining our private preview and helping shape app assessment for Windows Server, register here.
Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.