Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure

Over the last few years I have worked with many customers on their journey to the cloud. Being predominantly Microsoft focussed, that Cloud has been Azure, with a few opportunities and projects I have worked with integration with existing Cloud investment of some Customers in AWS / Oracle and Google cloud services.

What has been apparent at the start of the vast majority of these engagements and working relationships is really the disparity of understanding on a number of points relating to Cloud Technologies.

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I felt it necessary to write a quick article to highlight some of the key points of the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework in order to help businesses and individuals looking to embrace Cloud Technologies and start their Journeys!

What is the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure?

Succinctly put, the CAF is a collection of resources and proven guidance to help IT Pro’s and business decision makers to understand, Plan and consume Azure to achieve both short and long term goals.

CAF is split into a set of 6 categories that in turn have a set of resources to aid understanding and application. For a full rundown of the latest resources and tools visit: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/cloud-adoption-framework/

  • Define Strategy
  • Plan
  • Ready
  • Adopt
    • Migrate
    • Innovate
  • Govern
  • Manage

The core of the strategy lies around the Plan , Ready and Adopt sections that basically hinge around ensuring that you and your business is ready from a People, Process and Technology basis.

Putting it another way, what I have seen is that some businesses don’t have a plan for adopting cloud that has been developed from their strategy. Not having a strategy makes it difficult to articulate the ‘why’ of cloud migraiton or adoption.

Why do we want to move to Cloud services?

This may seem like an obvious question, but for me over the last few years I have been shocked to hear so many businesses not really know how to answer this question! But it really does need answering, is it because someone in your IT department has just done ‘something’ on Azure? Is it because your business has defined a well articulated strategy and ROI structure for moving applications and rearchitecting business workflow into serverless compute or containers in Azure? Wherever you are on this ‘Why’ question, you need to have an answer.

Effectively there is no real wrong answer, but if you are an IT Pro pushing up the chain of command, or if you are the CIO or CEO of a business looking to make your move to embrace the Cloud, defining your strategy and addressing the initial scope is definitely the best place to start.

Do we have the skills to do this on your own?

This is another area that CAF gets you to focus on. What skills do you need? What skills do you have in house? Do you need to Partner? etc. Don’t just assume because you have an IT department then ‘they’ can take care of it. I know full well that generally as technologists, the personality of the vast majority of IT Pro’s that I know is that is constant learning and inquisitive by nature. But lets be clear here…….. if you are a traditional ITSM based type of an organisation with a traditional Service Level agreement structure set out with your business, and you have the vast majority of your applications in some datacentre somewhere running on your hypervisor of choice, or a room in your office building that you spend a bit of money on every 3-5 years, chances are you don’t have the skills to do this on your own!

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t mean to say this to scare people away here. Think about your existing infrastructure and Apps. What do you currently run and operate? Do you have any existing external support contracts? How aware are those companies when it comes to running their application in the cloud? Do they support it today? Will their application only run on a Windows Server 2008? Do you have existing skills in DevOps? etc. etc. Ask yourselves the difficult questions and rationalise your estate. Then see if you have any gaps in your existing skills for what you currently run. In my experience most companies have a gap that is filled by a 3rd party partner or support offering.

Now……. take that and think about what you want to do with the cloud? Simply migrate for Cost savings? or completely digitally transform your business and build innovative products on cloud native technologies? Ask yourselves, do we have the skills? Now unless you have already done your strategy and upskilled existing staff etc. There is a reasonable amount of work to do here. Upskill your own internal staff? Reach out to existing or new partners. All this should build into your plan to ensure you are ‘Ready’ to start adopting!!!!

How does CAF help us?

Where ever you are on this Cloud Journey, CAF will undoubtedly have some value to add, obviously its difficult to pick out one main thing where is can help, however what I have found incredibly useful are the resources and tools that Microsoft have made available for each section of CAF. See them here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/cloud-adoption-framework/reference/tools-templates

The Microsoft Docs articles will help guide you through the options that you can consider and will get you on the right track for the types of questions you should be asking yourself or the business in order to develop your strategy that will form the basis of a successful first project into the Cloud.

Some of the key tooling here is the Cloud Journey Tracker, and also some of the assessments around Governance Gap analysis are great. But get stuck in and have a look at the growing number of tools and assessments.

Microsoft have developed the Well architected framework and Landing Zone Blueprints to help get you started with a way of working!

One other thing to look out for is that Microsoft have just released the ability to conduct ‘Agentless’ scanning for up to 400 VM’s on a VMWare only platform. This is a great opportunity to use Microsoft Native tooling from the Azure Migrate appliance as part of the assessment service! Otherwise you can use the agent per server to glean usage and interdependency information which in my experience can sometimes be a little tricky to get past your change control board to enable you to conduct deeper dive analysis of your estate!

What’s new in Azure Migrate.

I do hope you have found this article interesting and useful, and whether you know about CAF the main reason for this article was to make people aware of the resources that are available to help business on their Cloud Journey!

What next?

If you have had a good peruse around the CAF documentation, a next stop to consider should be Enterprise Scale Landing Zones, although I may save another few articles to pick some of those elements up as there is a lot of great ideas and methods to get stuck into!!

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