Case study: Intelligent Cloud, Datacentre Migration

A government department (client name withheld) needed to digitally transform its business practices, streamline staff workflows and deliver better service to its customers.

Intelligent Cloud, Datacentre Migration

Transitioning to the cloud was the first step in the digital transformation process, providing the foundation for continuous improvement.

This government department chose to partner with Empired to implement Microsoft Azure as its technical foundation to transition to cloud computing. This partnership was integral to achieving the project’s goals.

Moving to Azure overcame the department’s traditional inertia when it came to technology, which prevented true innovation. By moving to Azure, the department is more agile and flexible, leading to innovation and improved processes.

The work involved moving workloads from 600 on-premises servers to 330 virtual servers in Azure, which allows the department to execute repetitive tasks and scale to meet changing demands. Microsoft Azure also allows for ongoing application modernisation with the added benefit of extended support for no charge for customers running Windows Server 2008/R2 or SQL 2008/R2 in Azure.

The department reduced costs by choosing Azure and demonstrated that cloud is a viable option for government agencies.

During the process, the team had to evaluate existing applications to consider which would change to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model, which application would be transformed while they migrate, or which ones to migrate first then transform.

Empired’s role was originally to architect the Azure solution, and subsequently expanded as the department asked for more help from Empired to drive the project.

The project was unique because it was conducted absolutely in partnership with the customer. The department had its own people and had to take them on the journey. Empired worked alongside their team to help run the project.

Empired spearheaded the architecture and delivery team. Empired also helped the department assess its teams and see how ready they were to support this new environment post the program of works.

Before working with Empired, the department’s IT infrastructure was entirely based on-premises. This environment has now changed to an infrastructure that is completely hosted in the cloud.

Significant monthly cost savings have been achieved in moving to Azure. 

Empired delivered the following:

  • Migration of 300+ virtual servers to Azure IaaS using Azure Site Recover (ASR)
  • Adoption of Azure DNS, with migration of public DNS zones and records to Azure DNS, providing global availability and low latency DNS query responses through anycast networking. This PaaS migration has reduced the cost of DNS services for public facing services by 70 per cent over predicted lift and shift Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) costs, and provides a level of resiliency far greater than could be achieved without provisioning a significant number of additional virtual machines in multiple public cloud regions.
  • Fourteen traditional Windows-based file servers that were serving 35TB of general use file shares were moved to Azure Files with support of Azure File Sync. This PaaS-Hybrid migration reduced file services cost by approximately 60 per cent over predicted lift and shift IaaS costs with centralised management, backup, monitoring and reporting of the file services solution available through a central pane of glass.

The solution also adopted other Azure PaaS services to replace existing on-premises functions:

  • Load balancers (replaced NetScaler)
  • Traffic Manager (new functionality)
  • App Gateway (replaced NetScaler)
  • Network Security Groups (replaced inner firewall)
  • Log Analytics (replaced SCOM)
  • Storage Accounts (blob storage replaced compliance storage/archive)
  • VMware SRM (replaced with ASR)

The transition to Azure has delivered responsive, scalable, secure and resilient technology to let the department focus on continuous improvement, be more responsive, embrace activity-based working, and empower teams.

It has also provided ongoing transformation. For example, the move to the cloud has delivered a more complete understanding of the department’s data reserves so it has established a new data platform in Azure.

This project has broad market potential and Empired has already been approached by other government agencies to do the same scope of work. Empired has also won other businesses based on the same learnings and approach. The solution is industry-agnostic and is complemented by Empired’s deep understanding of business processes.

There are key challenges of large-scale migrations to Azure. Empired knows what it takes from a people and technology perspective to tackle these challenges and achieve the planned results, with this knowledge being of benefit to other large-scale migrations.

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