How to transfer your datacenter’s data to Azure

Hybrid applications need dedicated connectivity and new ways of getting data from your datacenter to the cloud

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At the heart of Microsoft’s Azure adoption strategy is the idea of the hybrid cloud, bridging on-premises datacenters and cloud computing. You don’t need to get rid of your old servers; instead, you connect them to the public cloud to take advantage of its scale and services, treating it as an extension of your existing datacenter.

There are two main ways of connecting to private virtual networks on Azure: you can use a VPN over the public internet, or you can set up a direct connection into Azure data centers with Microsoft’s ExpressRoute. For most use cases, the VPN option is the most economical because it uses your existing systems and so doesn’t require significant extra hardware or new leased lines.

Connecting to Azure over the public internet

Setting up a VPN to Azure is like setting up an IPSec VPN to any other network, much like configuring connections to branch offices or to a disaster recovery service. You need a VPN appliance from a Microsoft-approved vendor to provide the gateway to the VPN connection at your end, with an Azure VPN gateway set up in your Azure virtual network. Microsoft provides guidance on how to configure the network at both ends, with support for both policy- and route-based virtual network gateways.

If you’re using a relatively low bandwidth connection, there’s no need to buy any extra hardware because Azure is compatible with the VPN tools built into Windows Server’s Routing and Remote Access Service. That can make it easier to set up management networks for IaaS apps running on Azure, without having to build publicly accessible management web user interfaces.

At the Azure end of the connection, Azure VPN gateways are dedicated virtual machines that handle network connections for you, hosting IPSec tunnels for your network. They come in three versions:

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