Micro Technology Solutions Inc.

Migrating On-Premises to Azure: Streamlining Domain Management and File Sharing

Digital transformation - Cloud computing

When a server reaches End-of-life, most small businesses plan for the capital outlay to replace it with a newer server at their location, but as cloud adoption accelerates, more small companies are considering Azure as an alternative. This blog explores how Microsoft Azure can be leveraged to replace an on-premises server functioning as both a domain controller and file share, offering a more scalable, secure, and cost-effective solution.

The Drawbacks of On-Premises Servers

On-premises servers require significant upfront investment in hardware and software licenses. These servers also require maintenance like software updates, security patching, and hardware troubleshooting. Buying a single physical server locks a small business into a platform which is a single point of failure and may also limit options for growth if the business expands.

Azure AD and Azure Files: A Cloud-Based Solution

Microsoft Azure offers two key services: Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and Azure Files.

  • Azure AD: This cloud-based directory service provides user authentication, authorization, and single sign-on (SSO) for a variety of applications and resources. Unlike on-premises AD, Azure AD offers high availability and disaster recovery, ensuring uninterrupted access even during outages. Additionally, Azure AD integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft 365 services like Office 365 and Intune, simplifying user management and access control.
  • Azure Files: This fully managed file storage service provides highly available, scalable file shares accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Azure Files offers SMB (Server Message Block) protocol support, ensuring compatibility with existing Windows applications that rely on file servers. Users can access files through standard file explorer integration or leverage mobile apps for on-the-go access.

Benefits of Migration

Migrating from an on-premises server to Azure AD and Azure Files offers several key benefits:

  • Reduced Costs: Cloud services eliminate the need for upfront hardware purchases and ongoing maintenance costs. Azure offers pay-as-you-go pricing, allowing businesses to scale resources based on actual usage and avoid overprovisioning.
  • Increased Scalability: Azure provides on-demand scalability, enabling businesses to easily adjust storage capacity and compute resources as their needs evolve. This flexibility simplifies managing growth and removes the limitations of physical hardware.
  • Enhanced Security: Azure offers robust security features, including built-in redundancy and disaster recovery. Regular updates and patching are automatically handled by Microsoft, freeing IT staff to focus on strategic initiatives.
  • Improved Accessibility: Users can access files and applications from any device with an internet connection, promoting remote work and collaboration.
  • Simplified Management: Azure provides a centralized management console for user accounts, file shares, and access control policies. This streamlines IT administration and frees up resources for other tasks.

Considerations for Migration

While migration offers significant advantages, it’s important to carefully consider your specific needs. Several factors require evaluation:

  • Application Compatibility: Ensure that applications relying on the on-premises file server are compatible with Azure Files. While Azure Files supports SMB, some legacy applications might require adjustments.
  • Bandwidth Requirements: Migrating large amounts of data to the cloud might require additional bandwidth resources. Companies with limited internet bandwidth might need to implement a staged migration or consider alternatives for on-premises data storage.
  • Hybrid Deployment: For businesses with specific compliance requirements or latency concerns, a hybrid deployment might be optimal. This approach involves synchronizing on-premises AD with Azure AD while using Azure Files for cloud-based storage.
  • Consumption-Based Fees: It is important to note that Azure pricing is based on consumption. While you can freely access your on-premises server as much as you like, accessing Azure is charged by how much the service is used. It is highly recommended to engage with MTSi to predict what those costs will be so you can compare before switching.


Migrating from an on-premises server to Azure AD and Azure Files presents a compelling opportunity for businesses to modernize their IT infrastructure. If you’d like to explore the scalability and reliability of the Azure platform, reach out to our sales team to learn more.