3 big reasons to move to SQL and Windows Server to Azure
Imagine an overworked IT manager struggling to keep an organization running on ageing software. For years, they’ve maintained old server operating systems, rather than attempt major upgrades. They’d like to simplify things by moving the servers to the cloud, but they don’t think they have the time, budget or experience.
Now they have to act, because the software vendor is ending support for the old operating systems, exposing the company to serious security risks.
If you’re in that situation, you’re not alone. Plenty of IT managers are deciding how to modernize servers now that Microsoft is ending support for two of its most commonly deployed server products: SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 (support for this product ended in July this year) and Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 (supporting for this will end in January 2020).
But if you think that means you’ll have to complete a big, risky upgrade project, think again. The good news is you can keep your legacy servers running securely for the meantime, without upgrading them. And you can take some steps toward modernization at the same time.
That’s all possible if you partner with an experienced Azure Managed Service Provider (MSP) that’s geared to working with small-to-medium enterprises. This approach provides many important benefits, but there are three that stand out. The right partner can:
1. Keep your business running without major disruption or excessive costs
An Azure MSP should be able to take you on a step-by-step journey to Azure, rather than upgrading and re-architecting all your systems for the cloud right away.
The first step might be re-hosting your SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 environments in Azure as-is, rather than upgrading you to the Azure-native equivalents. Your servers will run in Azure virtual machines (VMs) and you won’t have to make any changes to the code.
Importantly, this approach will give you more time to plan your IT modernization. That may include eventually upgrading to SQL Server 2017 and Windows Server 2016, and taking advantage of the rich set of platform and data services available in Azure.
This will also protect your servers – Microsoft will provide three years of Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 re-hosted on Azure, at no extra charge.
If you have Software Assurance, you can save money by taking advantage of the Azure Hybrid Benefit. This allows you to migrate your SQL Server and Windows Server on-premises licences to Azure, which could save you up to 40% on Azure Virtual Machines and up to 55% on SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines.
You can also get an MSP to re-host your applications and workloads on Azure as-is. That includes custom line-of-business web and desktop applications, remote desktop servers, and Active Directory and Domain Name System functions.
2. Protect your business
Free Extended Security Updates aren’t the only security benefit you’ll gain by re-hosting your legacy servers on Azure.
Once your servers are running on Azure, an MSP can keep them secure. Ideally, they’ll have tools that identify which systems need patching, deploy patches automatically, and enforce security policies.
They’ll also have access to Azure services for ensuring compliance, even across a hybrid environment.
A truly capable MSP will also provide additional security services, such as threat management, which will further strengthen the security of your systems on Azure.
That’s an effective way to get peace of mind, without spending an excessive amount of time managing security.
3. Future-proof your business
When you’re ready, Azure provides the ideal platform to take IT modernization further.
For example, you can move from SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 to its native Azure equivalent, Azure SQL Database. That requires almost no downtime and doesn’t involve code changes. You’ll benefit from a fully-managed database-as-a-service solution that doesn’t require upgrading and has industry leading Service Level Agreements.
And Azure makes it easier to run underlying server functions in a hybrid environment. You can federate Azure-based Active Directory with Active Directory running on your premises, for instance.
An experienced MSP will not only handle this work for you, they’ll be able to re-architect or re-build your applications to run natively on Azure and take full advantage of new Azure services.
You’ll gain access to many new Azure capabilities, due to Microsoft’s commitment to innovation. Its investments in technologies such as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things are proof of that.
You can work toward taking advantage of these and other technologies, even if you don’t have many resources or Azure experience. The first step is to engage an Azure partner that can take you on this journey.
Here at NTT we know all this is possible, because it’s how we work with our Managed Azure clients. We’ve invested extensively in skills and tools to help them continue getting value from their legacy investments, while laying a foundation for their transformation.
By considering these issues before replacing or migrating SQL and Windows Server 2008, you’ll be better placed to begin that transformation too.
To experience a hands-on demonstration or talk to our Azure Discovery Service team, contact NTT in Sydney on 02 9270 3400, Melbourne on 03 9230 9000, or Canberra on 02 6229 3600. Or, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org