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AWS migration guide: 10 frequently asked questions answered

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been at the forefront of aiding customers in migrating their Microsoft workloads to the cloud since 2008 - a track record longer than any other cloud provider. As a leading expert in this domain, Softweb Solutions, an AWS Migration and Modernization Competency partner, has successfully executed the migration of thousands of Microsoft workloads to the cloud for diverse clients. Opting for AWS signifies aligning with millions of satisfied customers who have experienced improved performance, enhanced security, reduced ownership costs, and flexible licensing for Windows Server, SQL Server, and .NET workloads.

Both Softweb Solutions and AWS offer comprehensive support for your cloud migration needs, whether you are transferring individual workloads or entire data centers. This collaboration stands out with an extensive range of migration and modernization services, empowering you to swiftly leverage the business advantages of the cloud.

Here, we delve into the 10 most prevalent questions faced by businesses considering the migration of Microsoft workloads to AWS, covering topics from automation options and cost optimization strategies to SQL Server, .NET workloads, Windows Server containers, and other crucial areas. Additionally, we provide top recommendations for customers managing these workloads on AWS.

1. Why should you choose AWS to run your Microsoft workloads in the cloud?

AWS consistently stands out for its unmatched expertise in managing Microsoft workloads, surpassing other cloud providers in the eyes of customers.

This extensive expertise equips AWS with superior operational capabilities on a large scale. Notably, AWS takes the lead in providing flexibility in Microsoft workload licensing, recognizing the potential challenges of cost and complexity associated with Microsoft licenses.

Managing Microsoft licenses can be intricate and costly, and AWS addresses this by offering adaptable licensing options. These options, manageable within your infrastructure account control panel, include the flexibility to bring your own licenses or opt for a pay-as-you-go model, eliminating the need for intricate contracts or agreements.

AWS doesn't just excel operationally but also stands out in terms of modernization. It opens avenues to move beyond conventional Microsoft-licensed products, embracing specialized cloud-based technologies. This shift provides a way out from the constraints and high expenses tied to Microsoft licensing.

2. Can your existing Microsoft licenses migrate to AWS?

Bringing existing Microsoft licenses to AWS, known as Bring Your Own License (BYOL), is a powerful option. As a Microsoft License Mobility Partner, AWS enables the transfer of licenses like SQL Server with active software into their cloud environment on Amazon EC2. BYOL allows businesses to leverage cloud benefits while retaining current licensing investments and unlocking significant savings in licensing costs.

Explore the Microsoft licensing FAQ provided by AWS. It offers a valuable resource for gaining a deeper understanding of Microsoft licensing on the AWS platform. Moreover, AWS offers a complimentary service known as the Optimization and Licensing Assessment (AWS OLA), designed to refine both your on-premises and cloud environments. This service guarantees that you only pay for the resources you utilize, all while ensuring adherence to third-party licensing compliance.

3. How can you reduce dependency on Microsoft licensing with AWS?

Many new and experienced customers are actively looking for ways to break free from the constraints and high costs associated with Microsoft licensing.

The overarching objective is to reduce expenses, enhance security, and maximize the cost-effectiveness of Microsoft applications.

AWS empowers a faster pace of innovation by offering alternatives to Microsoft-licensed products through the integration of open-source options and cloud-optimized technologies. This shift can result in notable enhancements in project speed and overall efficiency. Consider implementing the following strategies:

  • Transition from Windows Server to Linux: Embrace a more flexible and cost-effective operating system to optimize your resources.
  • Migrate applications to the modern .NET platform: Shift from the .NET framework to the contemporary .NET platform for improved performance and innovation.
  • Decompose monolithic applications: Break down large, unwieldy monolithic applications into streamlined and efficient microservices for enhanced manageability.
  • Adopt DevOps practices: Embrace DevOps methodologies utilizing container and serverless technologies for swifter and more reliable software deployment.
  • Leverage specialized databases: Enhance data storage and management by transitioning to platforms like Amazon Aurora and other specialized databases designed for optimal performance.

For those contemplating a transition away from conventional licensing to attain greater freedom and cost efficiency, Softweb Solutions stands ready to navigate this modernization journey. Their expertise and support ensure a seamless transition, bringing significant benefits to your organization.

4. How can you optimize the cost of your Windows Server workloads on AWS?

AWS offers a wide selection of computed instances optimized for various use cases. To lower the total cost of ownership for Windows Server workloads, identifying the right instance type is crucial. AWS provides optimization tools like Compute Optimizer and Trusted Advisor, along with flexible pricing models like Savings Plans, allowing businesses to achieve substantial savings through server cost optimization.

AWS boasts an extensive selection of over 600 secure and resizable compute instances, making it the largest offering compared to other cloud providers. Tailored by various use cases encompassing CPU, memory, storage, and networking capacity, these instances provide remarkable flexibility for your applications.

However, while this flexibility allows you to choose the optimal resources for your applications, over-provisioning on compute instances can lead to unnecessary costs and resource consumption. To effectively lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) for your Windows Server workloads on AWS, consider implementing the following recommendations:

1. Identify the appropriate instance type: If you haven't conducted an AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessment (AWS OLA), start today. This complimentary assessment evaluates your Windows environment, identifying opportunities to reduce costs and enhance resource efficiency. AWS also provides rightsizing tools to identify over-provisioned resources.

2. Utilize optimization tools for Windows Server workloads: Take advantage of AWS's array of tools designed to provide insights into your current and future AWS costs:

  • AWS Compute Optimizer: Offers valuable insights and suggestions to optimize workloads, potentially resulting in cost savings of up to 25 percent.
  • AWS Trusted Advisor: Helps in saving costs by providing actionable recommendations based on the analysis of usage, configuration, and spend.
  • AWS Cost Explorer: Allows you to view and analyze your costs and usage over the last 12 months, forecast spending for the next 12 months, and receive purchase recommendations.

3. Choose the right savings plan: Explore Savings Plans, which operate on a flexible pricing model capable of reducing your bill by up to 72% compared to on-demand prices. This involves committing to a one- or three-year hourly expenditure. AWS offers three types of Savings Plans: Compute Savings Plans, EC2 Instance Savings Plans, and Amazon SageMaker Savings Plans. Each plan is tailored to specific needs, providing a cost-effective approach to managing expenses.

5. Can migrating Microsoft Workloads to AWS be automated?

AWS migration services play a pivotal role in facilitating a seamless transition to the cloud, with automation being a crucial element. These services include the Application Migration Service, Migration Hub Strategy Recommendations, and Migration Hub Orchestrator. They streamline and accelerate the migration process by automating tasks such as server conversion, strategy planning, and migration tracking. Leveraging AWS migration services ensures efficiency and effectiveness throughout the migration journey.

Numerous tools are available to streamline and automate your cloud migration process. Below are the key AWS services that facilitate a smooth transition:

  • AWS application migration services: This free service simplifies and expedites your migration by automatically converting source servers from physical, virtual, or cloud infrastructure to run seamlessly on AWS. It ensures cost efficiency by enabling a standardized automated process for a diverse range of applications, eliminating the need for alterations to application code, architecture, or migrated servers.
  • AWS migration hub strategy recommendations: This feature aids in crafting a migration and modernization strategy for applications, whether they are currently on-premises or in the AWS Cloud. By automating the analysis of each application's process dependencies and technical complexity, the Strategy Recommendations feature reduces planning time and effort, expediting your business transformation on AWS.
  • AWS migration hub orchestrator: The Orchestrator feature within AWS Migration Hub consolidates the execution and tracking of migrations into a single location. It simplifies and automates the migration process for servers and enterprise applications to AWS. Additionally, it provides customizable migration workflows through templates, ensuring a tailored approach to meet unique migration requirements.

6. How can we optimize and modernize our SQL Server workloads on AWS?

Consider the following cost-saving recommendations for deploying SQL Server on Amazon EC2 deployments:

  • Consolidate small SQL Server databases: Combine smaller databases to optimize resource utilization.
  • Utilize SQL Server developer edition for non-production environments: Save costs by deploying the Developer edition for non-production needs.
  • Leverage the optimize CPU feature: Activate the Optimize CPU feature to potentially save up to 75%.

Deploying SQL Server on Amazon RDS offers a fully managed relational database service, simplifying setup, operation, and scalability while reducing operational overhead. Explore specialized, fully managed, purpose-built cloud databases for specific SQL Server data operations. AWS provides a diverse range of over 15 database engines supporting various data models, including relational, key-value, in-memory, document, wide column, graph, time series, and ledger. Open-source alternatives like SQL Server on Linux and Babelfish for Aurora PostgreSQL are also available.

7. Can your .NET applications run effectively on AWS?

AWS has been a dedicated support of .NET in the cloud since 2008, providing a robust platform for running both the legacy .NET framework and modern .NET applications.

Consider the following approaches to running .NET applications on AWS:

  • Migrate: Easily migrate your .NET applications to AWS by rehosting them using services like AWS Elastic Beanstalk or Amazon EC2.
  • Containers: Leverage containerization to bundle your .NET application with dependencies and configuration. AWS offers various container services to host your application, whether it's a .NET framework application on Windows or a modern .NET application on Linux. Utilize the AWS App2Container tool to generate a container image for seamless deployment.
  • Modernize: Opt for modernizing your .NET application to embrace a cloud-based architecture, maximizing scalability and reliability. Take advantage of serverless compute and run your application on Linux for reduced costs. Tools like Porting Assistant for .NET assist with code porting to modern .NET, while AWS Microservice Extractor for .NET simplifies transforming monolithic applications into microservices.

AWS provides a versatile and comprehensive environment for hosting and optimizing your .NET applications, ensuring flexibility and scalability.

8. Is AWS a suitable platform for running Windows Server containers?

Absolutely, deploying Windows Server containers on AWS is not only possible but offers several compelling reasons to do so.

  • Enhanced efficiency: Containers, known for superior isolation and optimized application placement, deliver heightened efficiency compared to virtual machines. This results in improved resource utilization and an overall cost reduction.
  • Streamlined development lifecycle: Automating key stages in the development lifecycle, including build, test, and deploy, simplifies processes for DevOps teams. This automation not only saves time but also fosters innovation, accelerating time-to-market for applications.
  • Modernizing legacy applications: Leveraging Windows Server containers on modern infrastructure facilitates the modernization of legacy applications. This transformation enhances scalability, security, and maintainability, ensuring applications remain current and robust.
  • Rapid scalability: Containers enable swift scaling, making them ideal for applications requiring rapid expansion or cloud bursting. This flexibility ensures applications can efficiently handle increased demand. For instance, Let’s Go Learn, an e-learning platform, experienced explosive growth and successfully containerized to reduce database response time and lower infrastructure costs.
  • Skill development: AWS provides free immersion days to empower development teams with in-depth knowledge of container technology and DevOps practices. This valuable resource contributes to keeping teams updated and proficient in containerization trends.

9. How can AWS and Mission Cloud assist in managing challenges during Windows Server and SQL Server end-of-support?

End-of-support challenges create unique opportunities for businesses to evaluate their future state. AWS and Softweb offer holistic evaluations, migration and modernization initiatives, and programs like the end-of-support migration program for Windows Server to address legacy applications effectively.

When faced with critical milestones like end-of-support (EOS) events, AWS and Mission Cloud provide tailored solutions to navigate challenges and plan for the future of your business. Here are the keyways they can help:

  • Holistic evaluation: Undertaking a comprehensive evaluation is crucial when selecting cloud providers for migrating, optimizing, and modernizing EOS workloads. Factors such as price/performance, reliability, technology offerings, innovation pace, flexible licensing, and streamlined processes are considered to ensure the right fit.
  • Assess, optimize, and migrate: Initiate migration and modernization initiatives with AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessment (OLA). This evaluates your current on-premises and cloud environments, considering resource utilization, licensing, and application dependencies. Mission Cloud aids in optimizing the migration process and AWS Systems Manager Automation run books automate upgrades for EOS workloads.
  • Legacy Windows Server applications: AWS provides the End-of-Support Migration Program for Windows Server, designed for migrating legacy applications to AWS without necessitating code changes. This program effectively addresses compatibility and dependency issues.
  • Modernization and innovation: AWS offers robust support for modernizing legacy applications, infrastructure, and databases. Mission Cloud's professional and managed services help break free from the software upgrade and refresh cycles. For instance, ATCC successfully migrated to AWS in under 2 hours with zero downtime, securing 31 production servers and 8 TB of data when faced with imminent data center shutdowns.

10. What recommendations do you have for customers running Microsoft workloads on AWS or considering the move?

To ensure optimal performance and cost-efficiency for Microsoft workloads on AWS, consider the following recommendations:

  • License optimization: Utilize the free AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessment (OLA) program to assess and optimize on-premises and cloud environments based on actual resource usage and third-party licensing. Mission Cloud can offer a migration and licensing strategy that right-sizes resources, provides a clear AWS roadmap, and eliminates unnecessary costs.
  • Timing considerations: Take advantage of ideal timing, especially during Microsoft Enterprise Agreement renewals or when using Windows Server or SQL Server versions approaching end-of-support. Conducting an AWS OLA assessment during these periods ensures strategic decision-making.
  • Ongoing infrastructure optimization: Ensure continuous infrastructure optimization for sustained cost savings. AWS Compute Optimizer analyzes the configuration and utilization metrics of AWS resources, offering optimization recommendations. This helps reduce costs and enhance workload performance by provisioning instances tailored to specific demands.

Swift workload modernization with Softweb on AWS

To accelerate your workload modernization journey, partner with a trusted AWS partner like Softweb Solutions, combining managed and professional services to ensure a successful cloud transition. By aligning with AWS best practices such as MAP, Softweb can work alongside your in-house IT teams, offering a three-phase approach to assess, mobilize, and migrate and modernize your enterprise workloads.

Choose our AWS consulting services for a comprehensive and successful migration to the cloud, allowing your Microsoft applications to thrive in a scalable, secure, and innovative environment.

Give your Microsoft applications the infrastructure they need to drive the business outcomes you want.

Modernize your workloads on AWS with Softweb Solutions today.

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