Azure Virtual Datacenter with a Greenfield Approach

Author: Carsten Due
Planet Cloud Architect

After meeting with many customers, it is apparent that the information following the introduction to Azure Virtual Datacenter (vDC) is somewhat overwhelming. As a consultative business, Planet Technologies spends a lot of time educating our customer about choices and features, but maybe more importantly, helping them make decisions. Multiple choice decisions exist in all of Azures features and it’s easy to get lost. Planet Technologies leverages the Enterprise Cloud Assessment and the Enterprise Cloud Readiness (ECA/ECR) framework we developed to help guide customers through the initial planning and enablement of the vDC.

Over the past year, in addition to offering an increasing amount of features in Azure, Microsoft has been promoting the “go-fast” methodology of moving into Azure as a virtual datacenter (vDC.) Initially, there was misunderstanding and confusion around this “madness,” but as with anything else new, things need to settle a little before it actually makes sense. “Why go fast?” was also my initial reaction to this type of push from Microsoft, especially when working directly with customers experiencing these heartaches, trying to follow all that is new and trying to make quick decisions that may or may not impact their business.

To help customers on their way and focus the efforts, the ECA/ECR Greenfield Approach was created.

This approach uses the ECA/ECR framework with the Greenfield approach recommending the customer to evaluate the current infrastructure then plan to Lift & Shift the environment to Azure quickly. It includes the typical 30-minutes session where we sit with the customer to cut off 20-50% of the initial “all-in costs” by eliminating the workloads that don’t belong in a real-world Azure environment. The reasons include excess egress, or solutions replaced by existing features in Azure. After the initial Lift & Shift is complete, the rewarding work starts: re-factoring, re-sizing and re-designing the Azure footprint, performed with our Planet DevOps teams. In most cases, this results in a lower cost for the customer, but we do see situations where some solutions incur higher costs, such as after performance issues which are remediated by scalability features in Azure – in other words, improving functionality.

The Greenfield vDC is created by extending the now existing vDC where the customer can optimize governance, security, performance, operability, and cost from the ground up by either integrating the preliminary design in Azure vDC or by extending into new designs or subscriptions where the customer will have a clean slate to work from.

You might argue establishing an Azure presence automatically creates the Greenfield environment that a customer might be looking for.

The answer to that is no. In most cases, organizations move their existing methods and processes into the new environment, causing an inheritance of structures and processes, which are the things they need to put to rest in the first place. This is where the ECA/ECR framework aids the customer in making the right decisions with Greenfield vDC as a goal. In other words, our mindset is to get going and focus all efforts on the initial migration to Azure vDC, then recommend changing gears into the Greenfield design, leveraging lessons learned, and experiences already gained from the ECA/ECR, thus optimizing the vDC footprint and design.

Microsoft Azure vDC offers a mature foundation with supporting tools to create a governance which all organizations set out to achieve, but few ever do. All Planet ECA/ECR projects use the Azure Scaffold model in depth when talking to the customer, and explaining why governance matters, how it affects operations of their datacenter, their agility, and their security posture.

Azure Resource Manager Policies (ARM Policies), Role Based Access Control (RBAC), Just in Time Access (JIT), Locks and Tags are all some of the features supported in the basic vDC governance, and when planned and implemented correctly, enable control and continuous assurance that governance and security are in place.

Planet Technologies offers a full range of services supporting customers in all stages of Cloud migration – from ECA/ECR, through architecture and migration services, to DevOps, and continuous management assistance through our Azure Advantage program.

For more information regarding any of the before mentioned services, please contact us.