Agencies who choose to keep their Windows workloads on-premises are also forfeiting the opportunity to take advantage of the efficiency and elasticity of a cloud platform, which can lead to better license utilization and lower infrastructure costs. Staying on-prem can also create long-term commitments that don’t align with the agency’s best interests and modernization plans.
They may be concerned about complexity, security, or even maintaining performance but the truth is that it’s not only possible to move Windows workloads to the cloud, but it’s a path toward freedom of choice, lower costs and release from vendor lock-in. Once ported to the cloud, the benefits start to accrue rapidly.
Below are some best practices to consider before you begin moving your workloads:
Determining whether you are over-provisioning and overpaying for licenses is an art and a science.
Before making any changes, it’s important to understand how you use your current Microsoft license entitlements and map them to organizational priorities. “License management has long been a challenge for enterprises, and if not managed well, license expenditures can balloon far beyond initial expectations,” said Brian Schoepfle, of AWS Worldwide Public Sector. AWS recommends starting with an Optimization and Licensing Assessment (OLA), which provides a rightsized, optimized view of an agency’s Windows workloads on AWS. Often, the results are eye-opening. It’s not uncommon for the results to show a 30% to 50% reduction in estimated infrastructure costs when rightsized, Schoepfle said.
Find the right combination of expertise and cloud capabilities before moving forward.
With a clear picture of the types and quantity of licenses required, the next step is choosing the right cloud provider. At the very least, evaluate cloud providers and their integration partners using these criteria:
- Experience in migrating Windows workloads to the cloud
- Technologies and service roadmap
- Data security, governance and privacy policies, along with relevant certifications and standards
- Reliability and performance
AWS checks all the boxes. For example, its Database Freedom program provides agencies with an attractive set of incentives and tools, including a database migration tool to assess, rationalize and migrate. The AWS Schema Conversion Tool helps agencies determine the best target database engine, and the Database Migration Service helps agencies migrate databases to AWS.
When measuring TCO on a Windows cloud migration, consider more than price.
Understanding the TCO of a given workload requires gathering the total costs associated with delivering an application. Common pitfalls in undercalculating TCO include:
- Comparing the costs of only compute and licensing, leaving out other necessary services such as storage and networking.
- Omitting support costs, especially if your Windows Server or SQL licenses will be declared end-of-support within the time period of your TCO analysis, meaning those licenses will require expensive extended support agreements.
- Disregarding Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) costs when comparing AWS to Azure. SA can increase licensing costs by as much as 40%.
- Failing to compare competing platforms on a price-per-performance basis.
- Underestimating labor costs associated with hardware maintenance, server and database patching, and other administrative tasks.
- Assuming SQL Server Enterprise Edition is a requirement, or over-provisioning hardware for high availability and disaster recovery.
It’s not only possible to move Windows workloads to the cloud — it’s an important step toward reducing costs, avoiding vendor lock-in, and improving reliability and availability. It’s also an important building block for agencies to achieve even greater gains, both technologically and operationally.