With the growing number of experts in our Data Engineering Competence Centre, developing a standardised way of working became necessary to guarantee both quality and efficiency in our work. Accordingly, we migrated our applications to Azure, making it our primary cloud provider. Azure Active Directory allows us to organise professional identity and access management, further enhancing our security. By utilising managed services, our new setup requires less technical maintenance and is more reliable, while still being cost efficient and flexible. Keep reading to discover why your organisation should start this process today.
During our rapid growth over the past few years, we shifted from focusing only on financial projects. We recognised the need to provide our end-to-end data science services to a much broader scope of clients from diverse sectors. This means we must prepare to deal with a wide variety of situations to tackle diversification. In particular, smaller clients who often lack the systems required to support data infrastructure and data science applications.
To address this, we started hosting several small applications and proof-of-concepts on our own systems. Although this pragmatic approach worked to solve short-term problems, it failed to prepare for long-term changes. Consequently, we realised it was time to invest in a scalable long-term solution: cloud technology.
To begin, we put our skills to the test by first migrating our own applications to the cloud, selecting Azure as the cloud provider. In the rest of this article, we will share our cloud migration experience.
With a scarcity of valuable time and a positive business case, we set ourselves a time constraint of four days spread out over one month to carry out the cloud migration. We had to be very pragmatic with our approach. This meant that we needed to find the balance between choosing the most modern, technically advanced methods and ensuring that the final product worked perfectly.
Before starting the cloud migration, we had three virtual machines that ran applications for nine projects. Each machine served a different purpose: one for development, another for production, and the final for a project that we chose to keep isolated. We used a cloud migration strategy known as “lift and shift” to move each of these to the cloud, only making changes when necessary.
For our databases, we chose to modernise by migrating them to their managed counterparts in Azure. This is a low-effort improvement that saves us valuable time in the future by reducing the time spent improving the system’s performance through database patching.
The result is that each of our previous databases were migrated into separate managed databases in Azure. Managed databases can be more cost efficient and reliable, as they require less regular maintenance. Moreover, our databases and virtual machines are now backed-up in the cloud, making it easy to restore our applications in case of a disaster.
Furthermore, we have integrated our applications with a central identity and access management via Azure Active Directory, which is connected to our HR system. This means that the user and role management for our applications is directly connected to our employee administration. Authentication and authorisation now happen in one place and are always up-to-date. As a result, the need for multiple accounts with passwords is reduced.
Impact for Clients
Firstly, as companies evolve and smaller businesses aim to become more data-driven, the cloud provides an accessible, cost effective, and faster alternative to traditional data centres. At ADC, we can help your organisation set up a digital environment, as well as find the right people to maintain and grow it. Our services are also valuable to organisations that have an existing environment but lack the tools or skills to begin applying advanced analytics in it.
Secondly, moving to the cloud provides us with access to state-of-the-art software and tooling with the click of a button. Cloud services are pay-as-you-go, removing the initial investment barrier. For many companies the cost of these services is marginal to the cost of manual system maintenance. As a result, cloud migration can directly save costs.
Finally, cloud migration is the perfect opportunity to standardise your IT landscape and work towards self-service. The cloud is flexible enough to cater to almost all technical requirements, while still providing building blocks and policies so that software does not need to be developed from scratch and is better controlled. For us, the standardisation made our landscape more suitable for audits, including our ISO 27001 Certification. If you are looking to standardise your landscape through cloud migration, we can help execute this successfully from developing a business case to design to implementation.
Learnings for ADC
This project was an excellent reminder of the importance of sticking to the set goals of a project. In this instance, our goal was to migrate all applications to the cloud within a limited time frame of four days. Yes, only four days.
It was difficult not to work on modernising aspects, such as the code or type of database. However, if we had started to modernise, we would not have reached our primary goal in the set time frame. Once you start changing things that are not broken, it adds unnecessary complexity to what would otherwise be a quick and straightforward process.
Curious what we can do for your organisation?
At ADC, we use tailor-made solutions to address our clients’ common goal of becoming more data-driven. Our process helps make their systems modernised, faster, and more standardised. Would you like to know more about our cloud migration process? Get in touch with Valijn Verbart or Lars de Ruiter of Amsterdam Data Collective via firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or check our contact page.