Microsoft Claims Another Cloud Win as Symantec Moves Onto Azure

Symantec, a security software specialist, is turning to Microsoft’s public cloud in an effort to cut its own data center costs. The news was disclosed by Microsoft early Monday.

Some workloads will remain on Symantec’s own data centers, but the goal here is to cut the number of facilities that Symantec needs to run. “We are super motivated to take cost out of the equation,” says Sheila Jordan, Symantec’s chief information officer. Symantec expects to close six of its existing data centers largely due to this move.

Symantec’s move will take time—and a lot of planning—to come to fruition. The migration of the selected data and apps to Azure will take 18 months from its inception last year through March 2018, when it is slated to be complete.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec is the company behind the Norton brand of security tools. Last year, Symantec bought both Lifelock and Blue Coat to expand its security products and services. Much of that consumer-focused software will run on Azure.

The company evaluated some 200 of its applications to make this move, and 105 have done so to date, Jordan says. Some apps have been tweaked or rewritten first to take advantage of cloud data centers, while others move over more or less as is and are adapted later.

Related: Welcome to the Era of Data Center Consolidation

Symantec, a longtime partner (and sometimes rival) to Microsoft (MSFT), will also sell its software from the Microsoft Azure marketplace, and Microsoft will use Symantec security in Azure. Symantec also sells its software on the marketplace hosted by Microsoft Azure rival Amazon Web Services (AMZN). Tableau (DATA), a provider of a popular data analytics tool, is also using AWS.

Key financial applications will continue to run on Symantec’s own servers, Jordan says, and Symantec engineers and developers will keep using AWS for development work.

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Symantec is the latest in a long line of software vendors that are moving at least some of their data and applications to a public cloud.

A public cloud like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure comprises a massive set of computer servers, storage, and networking gear, which are rented out to businesses that don’t want to expand or run their own data centers. The advantage, especially for uneven workloads, is that customers don’t have to pay to run an entire data center that may not be fully utilized.

Last year, Salesforce (CRM) said it would host new applications on AWS instead of its own data centers. Infor, a provider of financial and manufacturing software, two years ago said it was moving all of its apps to AWS. Marketing software company Marketo earlier this year chose Google Cloud Platform as its public cloud of choice.

Related: Fortune 500 Companies Trust Public Cloud More Than Ever

Jordan says careful planning is a prerequisite: “It’s important to do an inventory of your apps.” Symantec categorized its own apps in groups: easy to move, those that needed work to move, those that need to stay put for now.

And, she continues, moving a given app to the cloud doesn’t make it static: “If you lift and shift to the cloud, that doesn’t mean you move it and never look at it again.”

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