What is the first thing that happens before you move homes? All of those old clothes, exercise equipment, and children's toys go off to the donation bin. This is also known as The Great Purge. The analog nature of all this stuff means that you are going to put it in boxes to haul it across the city. Not so in the digital world! Many times that server has plenty of junk on it, but it all gets "moved" to the cloud anyway. Let's change that approach.
Time to throw stuff away
Now that you have your list in hand of all the stuff on your server, let's act on it! The majority of file data is rarely accessed after two years of being created. Any files that you *know* aren't needed anymore, that old customer file or logo art, DELETE IT! It's hard we know, but just do it and be free. Well, FIRST let's take an archive backup of the server and preserve it for compliance purposes.
Our experience is that organizations rarely need to access their archive backup, if ever. Cleaning up all those files immediately increases productivity and helps end-users find relevant information faster. It also makes the transition to SharePoint and Teams for file storage easier. Finding a home for the 2010 Strategic Planning files usually is a waste of time!
Applications that are like your stationary bike
You bought the stationary bike with the best of intentions, but it is sitting in the corner gathering dust. Many applications are like this, purchased, and then forgotten about. Leaving unused applications on a server "gathering dust" often means unpatched security risks and data leakage.
The best way to move applications that are still in use is to reinstall them on a clean cloud-based server instance. Yes, this can mean a data migration or some user downtime, but in the long run, it results in a faster and more secure server setup. No more "dust"! If the entire server is being moved to the cloud, consider uninstalling these applications prior to that.
Move network services
All basic network services should be handled via your network devices. This includes DNS, DHCP, VLAN, and VPN services. Those devices are purpose-built to handling this and require less maintenance and patching than a Windows server. Often a prerequisite to being able to do this is to shift to Azure Active Directory services, and we encourage you to do that. Once network services are off the servers, we typically can shut down one or more of those extra Active Directory controllers! One less box to pack!
Purging your servers of unneeded applications and files prior to any type of "move" will save both time and money in the long run. Avoid the temptation to simply pack everything and move it, we all know how that ends. It's called a garage sale…