Microsoft Azure helps improve IT efficiency and the bottom line without sacrificing application performance.
Your end users, or entire departments, are likely already using the cloud for email and document collaboration. Taking the next step and considering migrating most, or all, of your data center applications to a cloud service can deliver a host of benefits, including improved application performance, resiliency, and a more efficient IT team.
One of the public cloud platforms to consider for building, deploying, managing and provisioning applications to end users and customers is Microsoft Azure (formerly Windows Azure).
What Does Azure Service Offer?
Operated through Microsoft’s global network of datacenters, Azure detects and mitigates security threats while giving you a central view of the health of your cloud resources. With this cloud computing service you can also leverage 70+ compliance offerings.
For software developers, Azure features integrated tools, DevOps processes, open source technologies and an app marketplace to efficiently and quickly build mobile apps, as well as Internet-scale solutions. The Azure platform also supports a range of operating systems, programming languages, frameworks, databases (including SQL database) and devices. This facilitates continuous innovation and cross-device mobile support. Developers also have the flexibility to run a Linux-based, or Windows-based, stack and can tap into advanced container capabilities and virtual machines.
From a business standpoint, Azure can connect your data and apps in the cloud with your on-premises apps and data to facilitate identity management across hybrid environments. This makes it possible to distribute data across both the cloud service and on-premises. End users can then tap into that data and utilize artificial intelligence for functions that can scale easily such as image recognition, bot services, high-performance computing, and real-time analytics.
Tips for Getting Started
You can execute the migration to Azure service fairly efficiently with some advance planning. Here are a few tips to help you develop the right perspective and to get you started:
Move for the Right Reasons
Some businesses move to the cloud primarily to reduce IT costs. This could prove true, but it’s not the case for every application. Enhanced IT services should be your number-one driver. The greatest benefits for moving to Azure or any public cloud platform are increased IT agility and flexibility, and increased scalability for your IT infrastructure in the way you develop, deploy and provision applications.
Adopt a Phased Approach
Start by swapping the physical servers in your data center for virtual servers in the Azure cloud. Once the servers are working and you tweak the configurations to optimize application performance, you can consider Azure’s other offerings such as platform-as-a-service (for software development), data analytics, backup, and disaster recovery.
Know Your Apps and Their Dependencies
Before moving applications to the cloud, understand the kinds of data that flow between servers and the processes that applications rely on to function. You also need to know the amount of bandwidth each application requires. This is critical in hybrid environments where cloud apps and on-premises apps exchange data. As they communicate, you may run into performance issues, or you may need to increase your computer resources. Understanding the dependencies helps determine which apps to move and how they will run in the cloud. You may discover the cost to run certain applications in the cloud will increase if it needs to integrate with an app that will remain on-premises.
Test Performance and Assess Risk
Determine the performance requirements for your servers, including how much compute, storage and networking resources they consume. It’s also important to measure the utilization of your on-premises servers. You can then identify possible candidates for consolidation and understand what it costs to run servers in Azure compared to the data center. Next, conduct a risk assessment to determine if applications will perform the same way that they run on-premises, and if that performance is acceptable. As you analyze up-time and resiliency requirements, you may discover you want to keep some applications on-premises.
Keep an Eye on Costs
Once servers are running in Azure, they consume CPU cycles by accessing storage and using network resources, so watch utilization costs closely to make sure they don’t get out of hand. While running servers in a data center means you generally don’t see the day-to-day costs of wasted clock cycles and redundant disk reads, Azure lets you access this data 24x7. This gives you greater insights into IT spending
Embracing the Cloud to Launch New Capabilities
A wide range of businesses, from start-ups to global corporations, as well as government agencies and non-profits, are embracing the cloud to improve their ability to quickly launch various capabilities:
- New apps and services
- Backup and recovery
- Website and blog hosting
- Audio and video streaming
- Data analysis
By moving some or all of your apps to the Microsoft Azure platform, you can deliver all these benefits to your business while eliminating the capital expense of buying hardware and software, as well as decreasing the on-going expense of running your on-premises datacenter. You can also tap into computer resources on-demand, within minutes—with the assurance you are always running on the latest technologies that enhance application performance and ensure security.
Other key benefits include the ability to scale quickly to meet the needs of customers in any geographic location. At the same time, you can off-load day-to-day IT responsibilities so your internal team can focus on strategic IT planning that helps drive revenues and improve business-process efficiencies.