Microsoft migrates own IT to Azure as it faces datacentre closures and server EOL

Microsoft is moving the bulk of its IT to Azure cloud as two of its datacentres face closure and thousands of servers reach end of life

Microsoft is modernising its infrastructure by migrating most of its IT to its own cloud platform, Azure, as two of its datacentres face closure and thousands of its servers reach end of life (EOL). 

The migration to Azure cloud is part of the company's corporate vision “All Microsoft runs in the cloud”.

The project is being carried out by Microsoft IT’s service deployment and operations (SDO) team. Microsoft IT is the division responsible for managing Microsoft's internal IT infrastructure and has adopted a cloud-first approach to applications and workloads.

SDO manages more than 40,000 operating system instances, which host the applications and services used by Microsoft’s own employees and by external partners to manage their business. The operating systems are spread across seven datacentres.

SDO faces two challenges: thousands of servers are reaching their EOL and two datacentres will be closed over the next 24 months because their leased locations are being decommissioned.

Replacing end-of-life hardware and moving the physical infrastructure to other datacentres would have cost Microsoft more than $200m, so the team decided to migrate the infrastructure to its Azure cloud platform.

To meet the challenges, Microsoft is extending its “cloud-first vision” to existing infrastructure. The IT team already uses Microsoft Azure as the default infrastructure for new applications and workloads.

But now it is assessing existing workloads and applications for cloud migration. “These efforts will help us meet the challenges of EOL and closure of physical datacentres,” said the Microsoft IT team in an official blog post.

The post is one of a six-part blog series that will explain to enterprises how Microsoft is modernising its datacentres and how it planned its Azure journey.

“We strive to be our own first and best customer, deploying and testing products and services internally, before they are released to our customers,” the blog post said.

“We are closing two of our datacentres and this will result in a significant migration velocity to Azure and balancing load across remaining locations.”

Under its cloud-first vision, Microsoft IT has created a hybrid cloud application strategy which involves moving commodity workloads to a software as a service (SaaS) model and moving new development and modern applications to platform as a service (PaaS). It will also move existing applications to an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or remain in a private cloud.

“When we apply this strategy to the overall infrastructure environment, we see steady progress toward Azure and an optimised private cloud over the next several years,” the Microsoft IT team said. “This is the broad transformation we are currently approaching.”

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