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Using Azure Environments for Platform Migrations to Office 365

Chris is a Senior Software Engineer at ThreeWill. His area of focus is consulting in the development of Microsoft .NET and SharePoint technologies. His primary role has been development lead in recent projects. Project roles have ranged from Development/Technical Lead to Development Resource.

Why Do We Need Azure Environments for Platform Migrations?

Are you interested in completing a migration from some other platform (we’ll use Jive as an example in this post) to the Microsoft Cloud or perhaps simply archiving content out of the platform? If so, you will need to have a place to complete the work. For the process that ThreeWill uses for Jive Migrations, this includes a SQL Server Database, file share, and one or more machines to install and run our migration utilities.

Azure provides an easy way to configure these resources into a dedicated, “pay-as-you-go” environment that can be used to quickly set up, complete the migration, and then, if desired, tear the environment back down.

This post provides a quick-start view into what you will need to get started. It covers the Equip phase shown in the diagram below and is the perfect set up for beginning the Inventory phase.

Jive-Migration-Process.png

Setting Up a “Pay-As-You-Go” Account/Subscription in Azure

The first thing you will need to do is to determine if you have a “Pay-As-You-Go” Azure environment already available for use. If so, you can move on to the next section 😊. If not, setting one up is easy.

Navigate to https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/free and choose to “Start Free” (you can change to a pay-as-you-go later) OR go ahead a choose to buy now. Either way, you will be required to use an existing Microsoft-based account OR set up a new account based on an email address (see the dialog below).

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Once you have an account identified and have completed the registration process for an Azure subscription, go ahead and ensure you are logged into https://portal.azure.com using the account/subscription you just confirmed and set up. The next section shows a simple way to configure the actual migration resources required for the Equip and Inventory phases shown in the initial diagram above.

Applying an Azure Resource Management (ARM) Template

Now it is time to set up the actual resources needed to “Equip” the migration process. This is handled using a custom Azure Resource Management (ARM) template. The template can be found here.

Make sure you are signed into https://portal.azure.com using the account/subscription description in the previous section. Then navigate to the link defined here. This will make portal.azure.com point to a pre-defined template for setting up the resources. After navigating, you should see the following screen (or similar).

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You will need to provide the following pieces of information.

  1. Make sure the correct Subscription is selected. This should be the one for the pay-as-you-go subscription described in the “Setting Up a ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ Account/Subscription in Azure” section.
  2. Determine what you company abbreviation should be; for example, ThreeWill would be TW. The example shown above just shows “TEST.” You can go ahead and overwrite “TEST” with your selection.
  3. Click the “Create new” link under Resource Group and enter the resource group name like “rg-{company abbreviation}-j2sp”. Replace {company abbreviation} with what you choose for step #2 above.
  4. Optional – You can change the “Admin Username” if you like. We recommend you keep it as-is though. This username will be used as the Administrator for the virtual machine AND the SQL Server administrative account.
  5. Please provide a password to go along with the “Admin Username.” Just as for “Admin Username,” the password will be used for the respective account on the virtual machine and the SQL Server administrative account.
  6. Agree to the terms and conditions and then click Purchase.

Checking the Environment

After Azure goes off and provisions the requested resources, you should get a message stating that the deployment was successful. You should also be able to navigate to “Resource Groups” and then select the resource group name you chose in step #2 above. You should see something like this list of resources.

Next Steps

The logical next step would be to configure the migration utilities and begin the Inventory process. Completing the inventory is ideal to do (but not required) before a Jive to Microsoft migration workshop. It is also an ideal starting point for pulling content out of platform you are migrating from into a well-defined IT-friendly format suitable for archive (or possibly future migration) purposes.

We will be following up this post to help cover related topics, like preparing the environment for production migration, completing an archive, security, and discuss the general procedure for shutting down and de-provisioning the Azure environment to help keep costs down.


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Chris EdwardsUsing Azure Environments for Platform Migrations to Office 365