Getting Started with Azure Migrate

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Companies should be taking a hard look at moving more of their infrastructure to the cloud if they aren’t already. Yes, hybrid deployments have been in the works for years, however, companies are starting to see greater returns on their investment and deciding to scale more to the cloud than ever before. The total cost of ownership (TCO) for maintaining and updating on-premises data centers are starting to greatly outweigh the arguments against the cloud. Moving from a capital expenditure (cap-ex) model (on-prem) to an operational expenditure (op-ex) model (in the cloud) is the decision a lot of companies are debating. In this article, I’ll introduce you to the Azure Migrate service which was created to help assess your on-premises environment and provide you with cost estimates to move your workloads to Azure. Using this service should help make those decisions easier.

What is Azure Migrate

Azure Migrate is a free service provided by Microsoft. This service (at the time of this article) can be used to assess your on-premises VMWare environment (the option to assess local physical workloads and Hyper-V is on the roadmap). This service allows you to create and retain multiple projects at no cost. Supported regions for these projects include the US, Europe, Asia, and Azure Government.

How does it work?

The Azure Migrate service provides an appliance called the collector appliance. This appliance is a Windows Server VMware virtual machine which you import into your VMware environment. After you have created a project, and have associated the appliance with your cloud project ID and key, it begins to gather performance information for up to 1500 virtual machines in your environment. You will need to install two agents on your systems in your environment which you will find available after your project is created. Microsoft provides both Windows and Linux agents. The Microsoft Monitoring Agent (MMA) is used to provide additional performance information beyond what the collector appliance provides using Azure Service Map. The dependency agent identifies which systems are dependent on others ensuring you assess all required systems. For instance, you may have an internal web server using a SQL database server backend. Both systems need to be assessed. The longer the appliance and agents are allowed to run, the greater the accuracy for the cost estimates.

Getting Started

As mentioned, the Azure Migrate feature is a free service, however, you do need to have a valid subscription to use it. To get started, log into your Azure portal. Next, search for Azure Migrate.

Creating an Azure Migrate Project

Creating a project is pretty straight forward. You need to provide the following information.

  1. Project name
  2. Subscription
  3. Resource Group (choose existing or create new)
  4. Geography (the region where project metadata will be stored)


And that’s it. You should have an Azure Migrate project listed in your resources. Select the Migrate project. You will see a Getting Started in the overview blade with a Discover and Assess button. There are two steps in the process…yep, discovering and assessing. In the first step, you will click Discover Machines which will step you through the process of downloading the OVA file for the collector appliance and associated the project id and key with your project.


Microsoft did a great job making this process as easy as possible. As we see in the image below, they provide the necessary steps to get up and running quickly including providing the project ID and keys. This does require some requisite VMWare knowledge, however, if you’re assessing a VMWare environment, I’m guessing you have this skilllset.



Once the collector is configured and starts collecting information, it will send the metadata to your configured Azure Migrate project. This process should only take a few minutes based on the number of systems you have in your environment. You will see a notification in your project blade when it has received the data.

The next step is to create an assessment. Select the Assessments option in the project and click Create Assessment at the top of the blade. You can create a new assessment group or use an existing. Next, you will select which machines you want to be included in the assessment and then click Create Assessment. Be sure to select those workloads you are thinking of migrating to Azure.


Once that has completed, you can return to the Assessments blade and select the assessment you just created. This report will provide estimates based on the data provided. There are several pieces of information on this screen.


Azure Readiness lets you know what systems can be migrated to Azure “as-is” or with slight updates as well as the estimates for compute and storage costs. It provides these values based on the default properties which you can modify, with more or less robust Azure VM features. You can export these assessments as well. Remember, this information is at no cost, and is retained for quite a while. I still have assessments in Azure from more than several months ago.

Bottom Line

Azure Migrate is a great FREE resource for you to use to determine whether or not you may save money by transitioning from a cap-ex operating model to an op-ex model. They provide granular controls for you to scale the workloads up or down to see play with best and worst case scenario numbers for your assessments. Bad experiences occur when folks don’t plan the sizing of their systems properly and more often than not, they scale way beyond what they need and therefore have a bad experience when their Azure invoice arrives. Planning in advance can help reduce those bad experiences and Azure Migrate is one of many tools you can use to ensure a smooth migration to Azure while walking away from the hardware and infrastructure update fatigue.

Next Steps

There’s a lot more than just cost estimates in Azure Migrate. We haven’t even discussed the dependency mapping or how to modify the properties for our assessments. Check out these resources to go deeper into the weeds with Azure Migrate and these additional concepts. Of course, with all things Azure, changes are coming and you can certainly expect additional features and support coming down the road with Azure Migrate.