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Simplifying Infrastructure Management with Microsoft Solutions

James F. Hanauer, CTO, VP Engineering and Art Saisuphaluck, Solutions Architect, R&D Lead, CTSI-Global
James F. Hanauer, CTO, VP Engineering

James F. Hanauer, CTO, VP Engineering

Throughout my career, I have had the luxury of fulfilling various roles responsible for steering the technologies used by enterprises and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers. What I have found to be ubiquitous in each role is the need to have the right people around you to develop joint strategies and a joint vision. Gaps in knowledge and experience—for IT or other subject matter experts—present the risk of an organization falling into a mostly maintenance or survival mode. I consider vendors as part of my team, so I look for them to have a vision and the ability to execute just like any other team member. Microsoft is a technology provider that has continued to meet the current needs of many IT organizations globally while also contributing to the future of the technology landscape.

Microsoft’s effort in establishing technology platforms is key to ensuring organizations remain agile and focused on business value. Successfully establishing platforms that meet the need of IT teams and business operations requires having a unified focus in providing solutions for your infrastructure team, development team, and the vertical business functions of the organization. With Microsoft Solutions, CTSI-Global is able to keep the costs of training, development, and operations down since the solutions Microsoft offer fulfill the needs of both our enterprise operations and our product research and development teams.

Our primary Solutions Architect and R&D Lead, Art Saisuphaluck, has utilized Microsoft Solutions to enable our existing teams to achieve more in many areas such as advancing our DevOps adoption, simplifying infrastructure management, strengthening our high availability, increasing our product development throughout, and improving quality. He is enthusiastic about the direction Microsoft is headed.

“CTSI-Global provides a hosted suite of transportation and logistics services that are customizable extensions to ERP systems”

“I’m always looking at our processes to see where we can gain the most efficiency. Years ago when Microsoft expanded the enterprise capabilities of Hyper-V, I was thrilled because our current staff could leverage it to address the server management needs of the infrastructure team while also addressing the testing and resource needs of our R&D team. Hyper-V provided a means for reducing our rack space and power consumption while increasing server density and maintainability. The developers are able to utilize predefined machine images to locally or remotely spin up virtual machines for isolated testing of software. The Live Migration capabilities of Hyper-V allow the virtual machines to be migrated across hardware boundaries without the need shut them down. Windows Server Datacenter enhances the value of using Hyper-V by providing a better means for cost control in its virtual machine licensing model,” says Art.Art Saisuphaluck, Solutions Architect, R&D Lead, CTSI-Global

Our development team utilizes Microsoft .NET and Microsoft SQL Server to provide robust solutions quickly, so they spend a significant amount of their time in the Microsoft Visual Studio IDE. Developing applications in Microsoft Visual Studio has brought regular increases on our ROI as Microsoft advances coding functions—such as refactoring capabilities—and continues to integrate the IDE with their server technologies and their Azure cloud technologies. Since Visual Studio has native support for the Microsoft Web API REST services framework, Microsoft MVC website framework, HTML5, CSS3, and rich JavaScript development, the developers can stay in Visual Studio to develop, test, and debug services and applications while also having the ability to spin up and manage VMs, connect to SQL Server, provision Azure resources, and deploy into isolated testing environments— all within Microsoft Visual Studio.

Since CTSI-Global provides a hosted suite of transportation and logistics services that are customizable extensions to ERP systems, we are always enhancing our testing capabilities to improve quality and prevent regression. Using Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V, PowerShell, and Visual Studio in our testing solution, we were able to establish an automated method of creating ad-hoc testing environments that isolate changes for various levels of testing.

Microsoft’s evolution of Azure is beneficial to anyone uti­lizing Microsoft products. Since they are using their own technologies—like Windows Server, Hyper-V, IIS, SQL Server, and Visu­al Studio—to build Azure, Microsoft becomes a ma­jor consumer of their own products. This means that needed features and bugs that Microsoft observes will be much closer to the perspective of their customers. Features needed to enhance Microsoft’s ability to evolve and maintain Azure are now more likely to make it into the Windows Server versions that organizations use on-premise. A feature in Windows Server 2012 that relates to cloud capacities and has helped us is the ability of VMs to leverage virtual fiber channels for attaching SAN storage directly to a VM.”

Microsoft is serious about the cloud and specifically Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). This initially became apparent to me when Scott Guthrie was moved from Corporate Vice President of the Development Group to Corporate Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise in 2011. His work over the development group dramatically changed the development experience with Microsoft technologies, and he is doing the same throughout Azure and Microsoft’s cloud enabling technologies. Under his guidance since 2011, Microsoft Azure has gained a solid Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering that is simple but powerful to use along with many additions to its PaaS offering. The Azure platform services now comprise of Azure SQL Server as a service, Azure Active Directory as a service, Azure Websites as a service, Azure Service Bus, Azure Mobile Services (NodeJS as a service), Azure Media Services, Azure BizTalk as a Service, Azure Traffic Manager Service (Global DNS as a Service), and Azure Machine Learning (Data Analytics as a Service) as examples. To increase adoption, Microsoft offers a free version of the Visual Studio development environment, and to enable community involvement they open sourced many parts of the .NET framework. To CTSI-Global, this shows Microsoft has a vision toward the future of their platform while executing solutions for business today.

CTSI-Global is a company with 60 years of experience in the transportation and logistics domain, and like Microsoft we have a vision of adopting modern technologies and methodologies to package and deliver our expertise to our customers in a way that is simple to leverage for all areas of the organization while continuously delivering value along the way.

As CTO, the technology solutions and platforms provided by Microsoft allow me and my team to spend more time with decision makers focusing on how to build the company and less time implementing and managing specific technologies. Having time to work on business strategy is vital now that the role of the modern CIO consists of being a strategic business partner and solutions provider in the organization.

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