The completion of your IT transformation from data center to full cloud adoption can often be hindered by your desktop administration. While in the past virtual desktops have largely delivered on their promise to bring standardization, reduce the proliferation of applications and simplify desktop management, they have also had their share of challenges. As an administrator you had few options to:
- Create multiple VM pools with customized images for different user roles
- Overload virtual machine images with more apps than needed and hide or block them from the user making the image bigger
- Utilize dynamic app streaming which required additional infrastructure to be managed.
With Windows Virtual Desktop, Microsoft Azure has transformed virtual desktop delivery by completely separating the user profile data and application delivery from the Operating System to deliver a user experience that parallels that of a physical device, simplifies desktop administration further, and maintains the management of the underlying physical infrastructure.
Benefits of adopting Azure Windows Virtual Desktops (WVD):
- Support for Windows 10 and Windows 7 virtual desktops – the only way to safely run Windows 7 after its End of Life (Jan. 14, 2020)
- No need to overprovision hardware by aligning costs to business needs – transition from costly CAPEX hardware purchases to OPEX cloud consumption-based model
- Simplify user administration by using Azure Active Directory (AAD) – leverage additional security controls like multifactor authentication (MFA) or conditional access
- Highly secure with reverse connect technology – eliminates the need to open inbound ports to the VMs, and all user sessions are isolated in both single and multi-session environments
- Utilize Microsoft Azure native services – Azure Files for file share and Azure NetApp Files for volume level backups
To help you with the transition from standard desktops or an existing on-premises RDS deployment to Microsoft Azure, 2nd Watch has developed Windows Virtual Desktop Foundations. Windows Virtual Desktop Foundations provides you the blueprints necessary to set up the WVD environment, integrate with Azure native services, create a base Windows image, and train your team on how to create custom images.
With 2nd Watch Windows Virtual Desktop Foundations, you get:
- Windows Virtual Desktop environment setup
- Integration with Azure native services (AAD and AZ Storage for profiles)
- Image build process set-up
- A baseline custom Windows image
- Team training on creating custom images
- AZ Monitor setup for alerting
To learn more about our WVD Foundations, download our datasheet.
-Dusty Simoni, Sr Product Manager
While at 2nd Watch, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a plethora of CIOs on their journey to the cloud. Some focused on application-specific migrations, while others focused on building a foundation. Regardless of where they started, their journey began out of a need for greater agility, flexibility, extensibility and standardization.
Moving to the cloud not only provides you with agility, flexibility and extensibility – it actually improves your IT organization. How? In this post I will outline 10 ways migrating to the cloud will improve your IT organization.
- CI/CD: IT organizations require speed and agility when responding to development and infrastructure requests. Today’s development processes encourage continuous integration, summarized as continuously releasing code utilizing release automation. Using these processes, an IT organization is able to continually produce minimally viable products – faster.
- Organizational Streamlining: In order to implement continuous integration, an organization’s processes must be connected and streamlined – from resource provisioning to coding productivity. Moving to the cloud enables the IT organization to create sustainable processes; processes that track requests for resources, the provisioning of those resources, streamlined communication and facilitates the business unit chargeback in addition to the general benefit of working more efficiently. For example, the provisioning process of one customer took 15 days – from requirement gathering to approval to finally provisioning resources. By working with the 2nd Watch team we were able to automate the entire provisioning process, including several approval gates. The new automated process now deploys the requested systems in minutes compared to days.
- Work More Efficiently: Moving to the cloud returns the IT organization’s focus to where it belongs so your team can focus on the jobs they were hired to do. No longer focused on resource provisioning, patching and configuration, they are now working on the core functions of their role, such as aligning new IT service offerings to business needs.
- New Capabilities: IT organizations can focus on developing new capabilities and capitalize on new opportunities for the business. More importantly, IT departments can focus on projects that more closely align to business strategy.
- An actual Dev/Test: Organizations can now create true Dev/Test environments in the cloud that enables self-service provisioning and de-provisioning of testing servers with significantly lower cost and overhead. Something that was previously expensive, inefficient and hard to maintain on-prem can now be deployed in a way that is easy, flexible and cost efficient.
- Dedicated CIO Leadership: Moving to and operating within a cloud-based environment requires strong IT leadership. Now the CIO is more easily able to focus on key strategic initiatives that deliver value to the business. With fewer distractions, this ability to define and drive the overall strategy and planning of the organization, IT policy, capacity planning, compliance and security enables the CIO to lead the charge with innovation when working with business.
- Foster Stronger IT and Business Relationships: Moving to the cloud creates stronger relationships between IT and the business. No longer is IT relegated to just determining requirements, selecting services and implementing the chosen solution. They can now participate in collaborative discussions with the business to help define what is Moving to the cloud fosters collaboration between IT and business leaders to promote a cohesive and inclusive cloud strategy that meets IT’s governance requirements but also enables the agility needed by the business to stay competitive.
- Creation of a CCoE: Migrating to the cloud offers the IT organization an opportunity to create a Cloud Center of Excellence. Ideally, the CCoE should be designed to be a custom turn-key operation embedded with your enterprise’s existing IT engineers as part of its core level of expertise. This team will consist of an IT team dedicated to creating, evangelizing, and institutionalizing best practices, frameworks, and governance for evolving technology operations, which are increasingly implemented using the cloud. The CCoE develops a point of view for how cloud technology is implemented at scale for an organization. Moreover, by creating a CCoE it can help with breaking down silos and creating a single pane of glass view when it comes to cloud technology, from creating a standard for machine images through infrastructure builds to managing cloud costs.
- New Training Opportunities: Evolving the technical breadth already present in the organization and working through the cultural changes required to bring the skeptics along is a great opportunity to bring your team closer together while simultaneously expanding your capabilities. The more knowledge your teams have on cloud technologies, the smoother the transition will be for the organization. As a result, you will develop more internal evangelists and ease the fear, uncertainty and doubt often felt by IT professionals when making the transition to the cloud. The importance of investing in training and growth of employees cannot be stressed enough as, based on our experience, there is a strong correlation between investments in training and successful moves to the cloud. Continued education is part of the “Cloud Way” that pays off while preserving much of the tribal knowledge that exists within your organization.
- Flexibility, Elasticity and Functionality: Cloud computing allows your IT organization to adapt more quickly with flexibility that is not available when working with on-prem solutions. Moving to a cloud platform enables quick response to internal capacity demands. No more over-provisioning! With cloud computing, you can pay as you go – spin up what you need when you need it, and spin it down when demand drops.
As a whole, IT organizations need to be prepared to set aside the old and welcome new approaches to delivering cloud services. The journey to the cloud not only brings efficiencies but also fosters more collaboration within your organization and enhances your IT organization to becoming a well-oiled machine that develops best practices and quickly responds to your business cloud needs. Ready to get started on your cloud journey? Contact us to get started with a Cloud Readiness Assessment.
-Yvette Schmitter, Senior Manager
Tech leaders are increasingly turning to the cloud for cost savings and convenience, but getting to the cloud is not so easy. Here are the top 5 pitfalls to avoid when migrating to the cloud.
1. Choosing the wrong migration approach
There are 6 migration strategies, and getting to these 6 takes a considerable amount of work. Jumping into a cloud migration without the due diligence, analysis, grouping and risk ranking is ill-advised. Organizations need to conduct in depth application analyses to determine the correct migration approach. Not all applications are cloud ready and those that are may take some toying with when there. Take the time to really understand HOW your application works, how it will work in the cloud and what needs to be done to migrate it there successfully. 2nd Watch approaches all cloud migrations using our Cloud Factory Model, which includes the following phases – discovery, design and requirement gathering, application analysis, migration design, migration planning and migration(s).
These 6 migration strategies include:
- Retain – Leaving it as is. It could be a mistake to move the application to the cloud.
- Rehost “aka” Lift and Shift – Migrating the application as-is into the cloud.
- Replatform – Characterized as re-imagining how the application is architected and developed, typically using cloud-native features. Basically, you’re throwing away and designing something new or maybe switching over to a SaaS tool altogether.
- Retire – No migration target and/or application host decommission on source.
- Re-architect/Refactor – Migration of the current application to use the cloud in the most efficient, thorough way possible, incorporating the best features to modernize the application. This is the most complex migration method as it often involves re-writing of code to decouple the application to fully support all the major benefits the cloud provides. The redesign and re-engineering of the application and infrastructure architecture are also key in this type of migration.
From a complexity standpoint, replatform and rearchitect/refactor are the most complicated migration approaches. However, it depends on the application and how you are replatforming (for example, if you’re going to SaaS, it may be a very simple transition. If you’re rebuilding your application on Lambda and DynamoDB, not so much).
2. Big Bang Migration
Some organizations are under the impression that they must move everything at once. This is the furthest from the truth. The reality is that organizations are in hybrid models (On-Prem and Cloud) for a long time because it’s very hard to move some workloads.
It is key to come up with a migration design and plan which includes a strategic portfolio analysis or Cloud Readiness Assessment that assesses each application’s cloud readiness, identifies dependencies between applications, ranks applications by complexity and importance, and identifies the ideal migration path.
3. Underestimating Work Involved and Integration
Migrating to the cloud is not a walk in the park. You must have the knowledge, skill and solid migration design to successfully migrate workloads to the cloud. When businesses hear the words “lift and shift” they are mistakenly under the impression that all one has to do is press a button (migrate) and then it’s “in the cloud.” This is a misnomer that needs to be explained. Underestimating integration is one of the largest factors of failure.
With all of the cheerleading about of the benefits of moving to the cloud, deploying to the cloud adds a layer of complexity, especially when organizations are layering cloud solutions on top of legacy systems and software. It is key to ensure that the migration solution chosen is able to be integrated with your existing systems. Moving workloads to the cloud requires integration and an investment in it as well. Organizations need to have a solid overall architectural design and determine what’s owned, what’s being accessed and ultimately what’s being leveraged.
Lastly, code changes that are required to make move are also often underestimated. Organizations need to remember it is not just about moving virtual machines. The code may not work the same way running in the cloud, which means the subsequent changes required may be deep and wide.
4. Poor Business Case
Determine the value of a cloud migration before jumping into one. What does this mean? Determine what your company expects to gain after you migrate. Is it cost savings from exiting the data center? Will this create new business opportunities? Faster time to market? Organizations need to quantify the benefits before you move.
I have seen some companies experience buyer’s remorse due to the fact that their business case was not multifaceted. It was myopic – exiting the datacenter. Put more focus on the benefits your organization will receive from the agility and ability to enter new markets faster using cloud technologies. Yes, the CapEx savings are great, but the long-lasting business impacts carry a lot of weight as well because you might find that, once you get to the cloud, you don’t save much on infrastructure costs.
5. Not trusting Project Management
An experienced, well versed and savvy project manager needs to lead the cloud migration in concert with the CIO. While the project manager oversees and implements the migration plan and leads the migration process and technical teams, the CIO is educating the business decision makers at the same time. This “team” approach does a number of things. First, it allows the CIO to act as the advisor and consultant to the business – helping them select the right kind of services to meet their needs. Second, it leaves project management to a professional. And lastly, by allowing the project manager to manage, the CIO can evaluate and monitor how the business uses the service to make sure it’s providing the best return on investment.
–Yvette Schmitter, Sr Manager, Project Portfolio Management, 2nd Watch