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Powered by Azure: using the Cloud to migrate and manage your world

Mar 8, 2018 by Stewart Gibbons

Quadrotech is one of the leading suppliers of cloud migration and management tools for Office 365. Being a supplier of tools for cloud services, we naturally gravitate to using the cloud to host and deliver these services for customers – where appropriate.So, what does “where appropriate” mean in this context? First, let’s look at our product portfolio which uses cloud technologies, such as Azure:

Office Migration Tools

  • Archive Shuttle
  • PST Flight Deck
  • Cloud Commander

Office 365 Management Tools

  • Autopilot

So, all of the above Quadrotech products leverage Azure to either move data to Office 365 tenants, or to power better Office 365 management and automated administration on the platform.

But why use Azure?

When migrating to Office 365 there are some important advantages to having your migration platforms near Office 365 tenants, such as:

  • Maximizing throughput during migration by placing services in Microsoft cloud platforms improving the proximity to Office 365.
    • Particular important in Archive and PST, Public folder migrations.
  • Reducing on-site infrastructure foot print. If you use Azure, it means that there’s no need for additional power, VM provision, license, etc.
    • No need to purchase hardware networking, VM provision, license, storage, backup – which is effectively redundant post-migration cycle.

What ‘where appropriate’ really means here, is ‘when your migration project involves moving to a cloud-based service’. Using Azure in this scenario really works. In contrast, an on-site project, like an email archive migration that is ‘enterprise vault to enterprise vault’ would not be a good use case. In that scenario, data would be travelling up and back down from Azure for no reason, and this would limit the migration process speed to the bandwidth available.

Our Office 365 migration and management solutions using Azure

Next, I would like to look at the scenarios for where Azure can be used with our solutions to reap the benefits we’ve discussed. These are simply examples of how Azure could be used. As with all migration situations the individual specifics of how you would do this in your instance would need to be discussed with a Quadrotech Subject Matter Expert.

Archive Shuttle and Azure

Archive Shuttle is an archive migration tool for bringing email archive data out of third party archive systems and into Office 365, or another archiving system.

In an Azure/Office 365 migration, the only on-premises requirements you will need are the installation of appropriate modules for the archive solution.

The following diagram shows the topology for the Archive Shuttle platform when using Azure as a component part. This provides the advantage of minimizing the on-site foot print and using the advantages of ‘pay for what you use’ in Azure. There is also the possibility to have all your platform in Azure – for customers who want their entire platform within this estate.

PST Flight Deck and Azure

PST Flight Deck is an enterprise grade tool for when you need to migrate PST files to Office 365. PST Flight Deck reduces the technical and logistic challenges organizations face while attempting to remove PST files from their environment. PST Flight Deck is designed to reduce the time and level of effort required to discover, centralize, process, ingest, and eliminate PST files.

The diagram above shows a basic installation of PST Flight Deck using a single machine instance in Azure. This can be scaled further in Azure, and it is possible to put a full deployment (or any portion) on Azure resources. This would include core, ingestion, and additional module nodes. One of the decisions driving this is the proximity to the end clients – this may require that ingestion nodes are placed on site or even in different Azure regions.

Importantly, the individual specifics behind making the best choices are different for each scenario.

Cloud Commander and Azure

Companies that are already on their cloud journey can encounter problems with the explosive popularity of Office 365 where – due to change or growth (or both), they end up with multiple Office 365 tenants. Reasons for this include:

  • Their organization has expanded through mergers or acquisitions.
  • Previous technologies dictated or required that they have multiple tenants, and this is no longer mandated.
  • Adoption of Office 365 over time is not done in a centralized and controlled manner.
  • Movement between regions for compliance and regulation reasons.

Whatever the reason, having multiple tenants is highly inefficient, complex, and can be very troublesome for the end users. Migrating, consolidating or relocating Office 365 tenants might seem like a huge, complicated project, Cloud Commander – our Office 365 tenant to tenant migration solution – enables you to manage the process quickly and intelligently, minimizing the disturbance to your end users and your business.

Built for Azure

Cloud Commander was designed as cloud-based solution and runs primarily in an Azure environment. This means that data does not leave the confines of your environment. It allows for the update of both source and target on-premise identity objects, and coexistence for those in a hybrid and cloud-only deployments.

With data privacy a concern; Cloud Commander is deployed in a private Azure environment, so your data does not exist outside the bounds of your control. The fastest migrations are those closest to the data, and an additional benefit of using cloud services is speed. By deploying in Azure, the solution can leverage this proximity, and is able to command top speeds for your data transfer.

Autopilot and Azure

Autopilot is a SaaS application that brings the familiar ideas of hierarchical on-premises Active Directory Organizational Units and Group Policy Objects to an Office 365 tenant. Organizations can reduce the administrative burden of managing an Office 365 tenant by assigning roles and responsibilities to selected users.

Autopilot runs on the Microsoft Azure platform and acts as a proxy between Office 365 Administrators and the platform. Users initiate management actions within Autopilot, and our policy engine determines if the user has the correct permissions to perform that action on the target user.

Autopilot is built on Azure Service Fabric, so is highly available and provides durable services at cloud-scale. Azure Service Fabric analyses and manages the available infrastructure and resource needs of Autopilot, enabling automatic scale, rolling upgrades and self-healing from faults when they occur.

Office 365 migration and management solutions

Using cloud services to host and run your migration or host lifecycle platforms provides a very compelling methodology for fast and effective project delivery. These benefits are not always about the technical solution, but elements such as managing cost and available capacity, ongoing depreciation cost.

Some of the benefits of Azure can be summarized as follows:

  • Azure releases you from expensive capital purchases, for platforms and services, and the depreciation hangover post migration.
  • With lifecycle management type services, cloud-hosted solutions releases you from expensive step upgrades, and allows purchase of small incremental upgrades
  • No longer be hindered by capability and capacity questions, having enough infrastructure licensing network, etc. to do the job.
    • Purchase what you need from the cloud when you need it, no leads times for delivery, short duration to deliver the capability.
  • Different purchasing options
    • Make your migration a fixed monthly cost, with low run rate and no front-loaded capital purchase cost.
    • Run the platform in your Azure subscription placing it under your governance and financial control.
  • Performance improvements for Office 365 migrations
    • Maximize throughput during migration by placing services in Microsoft cloud platforms – improving the proximity to Office 365.
  • Pay for the time and duration of use – no capital expenditure hangover purchasing hardware networking, VM provision, licenses.

If you would like to find out more about how Quadrotech’s solutions leverage Azure to migrate email archives into Office 365, you can find more details here. If you have any questions about the other solutions mentioned here, we’d be happy to help. You can contact us here.