Adopting a cloud infrastructure is a big undertaking, but one that will support long-term strategic goals. In fact, moving to the cloud is a no-brainer for businesses looking to remain competitive, innovative and agile.
A cloud program can open up huge technological opportunities, and so following the best practices for cloud adoption can enable companies to maximise the benefits.
The Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) for Azure is a full lifecycle framework that enables organisations to reach their cloud adoption goals, at any stage of cloud maturity.
The cloud allows an unparalleled level of scalability for businesses, but it also comes with its own set of challenges to be aware of. In this blog post, we will cover best practices for Microsoft Azure’s Cloud Adoption Framework.
What is Microsoft Azure?
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform used by businesses globally. By adopting cloud-based approaches, organisations can increase efficiency, alongside streamlined scalability and accelerated expansion into new markets – allowing businesses to stay competitive while reducing infrastructure costs.
Azure’s resources help deliver world-class, cloud-enabled enterprise applications. Businesses can easily manage solutions’ complete lifecycle, from idealisation to product deployment.
By taking advantage of the cloud, enterprises of all sizes can move their legacy applications to a better infrastructure like Microsoft Azure, which enables faster development and can reduce IT costs significantly.
With deep expertise and certified professionals in the Microsoft space, ClearPoint is uniquely positioned to lead you through the stages of cloud adoption – providing strategic recommendations and implementation to move your business into the future.
Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure
As an organisation begins its cloud journey, it is fundamental that clear guiding principles are in place, to ensure a smooth transition. The Microsoft CAF for Azure includes tools that help IT professionals and business stakeholders to achieve cloud adoption goals within Azure.
The framework provides best practices, documentation and tools to guide you through the implementation of your cloud strategy, from start to finish. Before beginning the cloud adoption process, it is important that the key business stakeholders agree on the framework, to ensure the success of the implementation. The framework will then help identify and prioritise transformation opportunities as well as assess whether your company is cloud-ready.
The stages of Microsoft’s CAF are iterative and granular. It isn’t an exercise that requires months of strategic planning before taking the first step towards adoption – instead, it evolves with business objectives and phases in the adoption journey.
Best practices for cloud adoption with Azure
While the specific needs of your business will set the terms of your cloud implementation journey, some best practices generally apply across the board.
Among those best practices, there are some steps that every business in their cloud journey should take, regardless of size. Some of these practices have been outlined below, as recommended by Microsoft. This is not an exhaustive list, but a high-level overview.
Strategy: Define business justification and expected adoption outcomes.
Setting a strategy for cloud adoption is fundamental and should be understandable to both the technical team and wider business stakeholders. Clearly document business strategy through defining motivations and desired business outcomes, alongside understanding financial and technical considerations. This approach drives greater adoption by capturing cross-functional business value. The cloud adoption strategy can then be mapped to specific cloud capabilities.
Plan: Align actionable adoption plans to business outcomes.
Developing a cloud adoption plan turns the strategic goals and outcomes into an actionable plan that can be utilised for cloud adoption. It defines the priority workloads, understands the assets needed to support the workloads, outlines a path for adoption and establishes estimated timelines. This not only creates tangible steps towards the end goal but also keeps teams’ technical efforts aligned with the wider business strategy.
Ready: Prepare your cloud environment for planned changes.
To get ready for adoption, an organisation must create a landing zone that can host the workloads that will be built in or migrated to the cloud. An Azure landing zone is an environment that considers security governance, identity, scalability and networking – in turn, enabling migration, modernisation and innovation at scale. There are various types of landing zones, and the Azure landing zone conceptual architecture can help set a direction for the approach an organisation takes to implement one.
Adopt: Modernise, migrate, innovate, relocate.
Adopting a cloud solution means businesses open themselves up to further innovation, through cloud-native or hybrid solutions. The method for cloud adoption will vary depending on an organisation’s objectives and phase in the adoption journey. The different approaches include migration, modernisation, innovation and relocation.
- Migrate: Migration involves moving your workloads to the cloud.
- Modernise: Modernisation enhances existing workloads and processes to maximise business value.
- Innovate: Innovation is where organisations adopt cloud technologies to transform business outcomes and performance.
- Relocate: Relocation involves moving a workload from one Azure region to another and can be moved at any time after migration.
Govern: Govern your environment and workloads.
Cloud adoption is a journey that moves an organisation towards a desired, but unknown, final state. Cloud governance keeps the organisation safe through this journey – with processes that support the business throughout. It is essential to clearly identify the risks within key areas of importance, before converting these into corporate policies and establishing processes that include actions for the cloud governance team to implement. The cloud governance framework sits across five disciplines – cost management, security baseline, resource consistency, identity baseline and deployment acceleration.
Manage: Manage operations for cloud and hybrid solutions.
Delivering a cloud adoption strategy requires strong planning, readiness and an adoption approach, but ongoing management remains key in delivering desired business outcomes. The Azure Cloud Adoption Framework outlines several steps that can be utilised for successfully creating an actionable approach to managing cloud operations. This includes defining business commitments, establishing a management baseline, expanding on that baseline and advancing operations and design principles.
Secure: Improve security over time.
Just as governance and management are ongoing parts of cloud adoption, cloud security is also an evolving process that progresses with business objectives. This methodology takes the desired end state of cloud adoption to guide the ongoing security processes and programs. When integrating cloud security within the wider business, risk insights, security integration and business resilience should all be considered.
These processes and best practices should sit across access control, security operations, asset protection, security governance and innovation security – while adopting zero-trust principles that provide a sound security strategy and ensure businesses stays safe in the cloud.
Each of the points above includes its own set of sub-practices that need implementing, with buy-in from all stakeholders across the business. Aligning people, processes and technology with a clear roadmap accelerates time to value and sets organisations up for success.
If it all sounds a bit complex, it’s because it can be – but it is also one of the most transformational technology shifts your company will make and, as such, one of the most important.