Cloud migration options to enable quick remote access

The disruption to organisations across the globe amid COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has severely impacted business-as-usual activities. The main interruption being the difficulties faced by many organisations to handle the move to a virtual office with remote access.

Organisations are now having to make tough decisions and adjustments quickly, such as moving their entire workforce to home working. For organisations who have their applications and systems in the cloud, this has been a relatively painless transition. However, many organisations are struggling with this new way of working, with key project files and applications sitting on inaccessible on-premises servers, making remote working a challenge.

Organisations that have taken the leap and successfully migrated their on-premises legacy systems to the cloud know that it’s not a move that can happen quickly. Still, there are things that you can start doing now. Below are some quick wins that are enabling organisations to gain remote access during these challenging times.

Lift and shift

As a first step, it is a good idea to select one workload and move it from on-premises to the cloud. Depending on the size and complexity of the workload, your system can be up and running in Azure in a matter of days.

Why lift and shift?

Lift and shift is the quickest win available when moving to the cloud. Think of it as using Azure as a data centre by taking your existing on-premises workloads and moving them to Azure-hosted virtual machines. With lift and shift, you can begin to realise many of the benefits the cloud has to offer, such as scalability, availability, security, disaster recovery and cost savings.

Lift and shift examples:

  • Migrating organisational files and content to SharePoint Online
  • Moving user home drives to OneDrive
  • Migrating out of support technology – such as Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008/R2 to the cloud. (Microsoft offers three years of extended support for Windows Server 2008/R2 if you move to the cloud).


When you evolve, you are improving operability and doing so at the infrastructure layer. The existing codebase can be reused in a more effective cloud environment. You don’t need to radically reskill development teams or adopt new languages or frameworks.

With the evolve option, you, therefore, move beyond a lift and shift approach and adopt some of the additional services Azure has to offer. This includes exploiting infrastructures such as servers, storage and networking, and also middleware, development tools, business intelligence (BI) services, database management systems and more.

Why evolve?

Choosing the evolve option, allows you to avoid the expense and complexity of buying and managing software licenses, infrastructure, middleware and other resources. You control the applications and services that you develop, and your chosen cloud service provider typically manages everything else.

Evolve examples

  • Turn on Azure backups for on-premises servers and databases
  • Migrate on-premises SQL databases to Azure SQL – Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Migrate on-premises file shares and deploy to Azure files.

Go native

Going native refers to wholly embracing the cloud via Software as a Service (SaaS). SaaS is a complete software solution you purchase on a subscription basis. Organisations rent the use of an app, and your users connect to it over the internet, usually via a web browser. Maintenance of the underlying infrastructure, middleware, app software and data is the responsibility of the SaaS provider. The service agreement, which is included with your subscription, underpins the SaaS solution to ensure the availability and the security of the application and your data.

Why go native?

SaaS allows your organisation to get up and running quickly with an application, with minimal upfront costs. Adopting SaaS applications means you give up some control over functionality; however, the benefits of the SaaS platform, such as automatic security updates, generally outweigh this compromise.

Go native examples

In summary, lift and shift, evolve and go native are quick wins that offer organisations a broad range of services that allow for secure remote access to applications and data held on-premises.

By far, the easiest quick win option leverages the lift and shift approach which gives your organisation stability and protection and in some instances, such as for Windows Server 2008/R2, three years of extended security updates. Once you have realised the benefits of lift and shift, you can gradually look to evolve then go native, all of which support your organisation’s ability to provide remote access, no matter the challenges faced.

If you want to delve deeper into some of these cloud migration options, watch our recorded webinar on the topic – “Quick wins for remote access.”