Microsoft’s internal IT department introduced a plan last week on what steps it’s taking to move the business processes into Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.

This move, as explained in the posting on the Microsoft TechNet Blogs website, is necessitated by Microsoft closing two data centers over the next 24 months, as well as allowing leases on others to expire. In addition, thousands of existing servers will reach end of life over the next five years, which would require $200 million to replace. The migration to the new model of hybrid cloud infrastructure built on top of Microsoft Azure is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.

As detailed in a report published by Microsoft IT, the functions that will remain in on-premises data centers are:

  • Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS);
  • Domain Name System (DNS);
  • Windows Server Update Services; and
  • Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager.

The report also notes that “…applications or workloads that Microsoft IT considered high business impact, such as financial information, protected corporate information, or personal information, should be among the last to be migrated. This would allow Microsoft Azure to be effectively assessed and prepared to host this highly sensitive information.”

The migration plan outlined in the report is intensely detailed (even moderately candid as to what happens behind the scenes in Microsoft’s internal IT workflow), and Microsoft’s own IT crowd is clearly giving themselves a great deal of time to complete this transition to Azure. Naturally, the transition is rather complex, and the roadmap includes the use of third-party utilities in the migration process. Any migration in a company of this size is an effort that should be given a great deal of planning and forethought before the physical task of migration begins.

Eating one’s own dog food

It can be argued that the fact that Microsoft presently is not operating on its own Azure platform is a tacit admission that Azure — introduced two years later than Google Cloud, and four years later than Amazon EC2 — is not yet ready for mission-critical business operations. For comparison, Amazon has run its website from its EC2 and AWS platforms since November 2010.

With the increased reliance on public and hybrid cloud for common business applications, the fact that Microsoft is this late in its own migration is noteworthy. Regarding the migration to Azure, Marcus Eaton, a Datacenter Monitoring Tech in the IT department of the City of Seattle notes that, “It’s a double edged sword when a company does something like that. Sure, putting all your eggs in one basket shows that you have lots of confidence that the basket won’t break, but if it does break, you’re going to have one big omelet on the floor.”

Are you feeling blue about Azure?

Has your organization switched to a public, private, or hybrid cloud? If so, were there any difficulties in the transition? For those considering a migration, will you use Azure, Amazon, Google, or a different public cloud provider? Let us know in the comments section.

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