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New Azure migration tools analyze which apps should move to the cloud

Microsoft has sweetened the pot for potential cloud customers with new Azure migration tools and Windows Servers discounts.

A new service from Microsoft can help IT shops interested in a move to Microsoft Azure better estimate workload...

performance.

Potential customers have access to new Azure migration tools, such as the free Cloud Migration Assessment, which analyzes on-premises workloads to determine how applications will perform and the cost to run them on Azure. The move gives Azure parity with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which added similar capabilities last year.

The new feature was rolled out along with two other attempts to ease the transition of Windows Servers to Azure: licensing discounts and improved capabilities in Azure Site Recovery.

The Cloud Migration Assessment works across a company's IT environment to evaluate hardware configurations. Microsoft then provides a free report that estimates the cost benefit to house those workloads on Azure, as well as suggestions to appropriately size environments in the cloud. It also informs users on which VM types to select.

"This was an area Microsoft didn't have and really needed," said Angelina Troy, an analyst at Gartner.

Other updates rolled out this week provide access to the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit in the Azure Management Portal. Customers can save up to 40% on Windows Server licenses that include Software Assurance, according to Microsoft.

In the coming weeks, Azure Site Recovery -- Microsoft's tool for migrating Hyper-V, VMware and physical servers -- will add new tools to tag VMs directly within the Azure portal, rather than using PowerShell.

Native and third-party tools seek to smooth cloud migration

Cloud migration is a more prominent issue as customers shift from born-in-the-cloud startups to enterprises that want to shift existing VMs to the public cloud. They often have a hard time predicting how workloads will perform in these environments; a cottage industry of third-party vendors has sprung up to help migrate and manage workloads.

Cloud providers have also extended their capabilities as they seek to eliminate hindrances to adoption and use. They offer a variety of tools for real-time replication or transfer of configuration-dependent images. AWS and Azure now have similar options in terms of ways to migrate a VM into their respective compute services, though Azure may actually have a few more replication services and tools than AWS, Troy said.

The assessment capability isn't necessarily superior to what other third-party companies provide, but the main benefit is that it's free, Troy said. This tool can now be combined with other Azure migration tools, such as Azure Migration Accelerator and Azure Site Recovery, to coordinate and move workloads to Microsoft's public cloud.

Third parties don't always have that same depth of knowledge of cloud platform updates, but they can provide insights across providers to help users find the best fit, especially if they're vendor-agnostic.

The actual migration can often be the simplest part of the move to the cloud, said Timothy Campbell, product manager at Datapipe, a managed service provider based in Jersey City, N.J., that partners with AWS and Azure. Still, navigating Azure's large product and feature set can be daunting, so these features address an important piece of the puzzle, he added.

These updates "will likely accelerate adoption by providing a native tool that can help align workloads correctly and create efficiencies that are specific to the platform," he said.

Trevor Jones is a news writer with SearchCloudComputing and SearchAWS. Contact him at tjones@techtarget.com.

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