Microsoft Azure Services

Rodrigo Estrada, Director of Architecture Services and Guillermo Salinas, Infrastructure Master Architect, NEORIS

Rodrigo Estrada, Director of Architecture Services

Nowadays the cloud market is immersed in a constant evolution due to its recent creation and low maturity, meaning that at this point we’re far from knowing how the mature market will look like, although we might have a good idea. In this market, two competitors have established as the most serious contenders on most of the cloud services offered today: Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

Looking at Microsoft azure services, they can be categorized in two main areas:

• Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)–composed of the use of virtual machines, managing storage, network and security resources. This option is ideal if your company has a solid IT infrastructure management department, also is idealto support services that might have a variable resource usage throughout the month and those that can be turned off for periods of time, such as disaster recovery or development and test environments.

• Platform as a Service (PaaS)–this domain consists on the use of applications that can be subscribed to deploy services immediately. In this model, the infrastructure and software components are controlled and managed by Microsoft, in such a way that the customer is only concerned about the application services and the data to use. Some examples of services in PaaS are SQL Server databases, Hadoop clusters, IoT Centre, API management, Machine Learning and many more.

Because of this vitality in the cloud services market, we suggest that every organization interested in leveraging Microsoft Azure to support its business processes, assigns somebody as the responsible to keep the organization updated on the recent news, by subscribing to different news feeds, as well as to attend related events and training; some of this mechanisms can be Azure Fridays, Azure Blog, Azure Events. This is especially important because of the changing environment, for example, just in the recent past weeks, we’ve received some news about new lower Azure pricing, or Azure SQL Server database now supporting up to 10 years of Backup retention, or the launch of Azure Analysis Services.

‚Äč  Nowadays the cloud market is immersed in a constant evolution due to its recent creation and low maturity 

If you’re evaluating moving towards Microsoft Azure services, here we have some words of caution to help you realize the benefits in its best possible form:

• In an agile manner, but don’t forget to define your strategy for adopting cloud services, at least have definitions for what type of information you can move to Azure, what type of environments should be migrated, a way to deal with the integration of on premise and cloud components, managing user identities in the cloud, managing security, high availability, etc.

• Operating cloud infrastructure is not the same as operating your on premise infrastructure, you will need to deal with the backup of the information and the archiving policies, monitoring of cloud services, integrating the cloud components to your CMDB inventories, updating your OLA’s and SLA’s, etc.

• Defining windows of operation for your different cloud services, to better realize the benefits of being invoiced only for what you use.

• You will need to upgrade your telecommunications infrastructure. Ideally, you should not share the same internet link being used by your users to browse the internet, with the use of a corporate application in cloud, such as your ERP, CRM or the like.Guillermo Salinas, Infrastructure Master Architect, NEORIS

• Involve your finance team to validate that the cloud services billing process complies with your accounting practices and policies.

In the other hand, this is our advice for those planning on implementing Microsoft Azure Services:

• Make sure you clearly understand the benefits that Azure will bring to your organization, don’t underestimate this point, if you’re not convinced of the numbers you won’t be able to convince your organization, spend some good quality time on your business case and clarify your purpose; some examples of the drivers you might have are the following: lower your IT operating costs, expand your geographical coverage globally, improve customer service by placing IT services closer to them, etc.

• Consider using a good certified partner or Microsoft services to identify the potential benefits of leveraging Azure in your organization. Sometimes, this analysis can be obtained with no cost for you.

• If you haven’t been using the cloud, here are some good scenarios where you will get tangible benefits to start selling internally the value of this trend:
o Avoid buying new infrastructure for dev & test environments, as long as you can turn off these environments once in a while, you will be saving your organization good dollars
o Evaluate moving your Disaster Recovery infrastructure to Azure, most of the components of such infrastructure, will usually be turned off, with the new technologies, even the database server can be turned off while replicating transactions from the production environment
o Also, look for infrastructure you have with legacy applications that are turned off but you need to keep for auditing purposes, for sure it will be less expensive to have that infrastructure in Azure that in your own facilities, as it will mostly be turned off

Microsoft Azure services are well worth using, if you haven’t started, take our advice to ensure you don’t waste your only chance to introduce it correctly to your organization, at the end, the whole industry is moving in that direction. Good luck….

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