Microsoft Azure is a cloud-based computing resource – a direct competitor to Amazon Web Services – with three key functions: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). All three of these capabilities allow your organization to move IT functions in the cloud, meaning you no longer have to worry about buying or maintaining your own servers – a huge cost (and time) savings for your organization.
Whether you want to use Microsoft Azure for cloud-based storage or to access cloud-based computing resources, however, you need to carefully define why you want to make the transition before you make the move.
Ask yourself these three questions to clarify your reasons for moving and create a plan for your transition to Microsoft Azure:
If saving money is your primary motivation for evaluating Microsoft Azure, there is a relatively easy way to get started and save significant money right out of the gate. Most firms, looking to save money and get some quick wins under their belt, move their development and test operations to the cloud. If there is push back, just ask your CFO if they really, really want to buy those new servers and supporting software licenses. If the answer is no, Azure might be a great fit. In this regard, moving development and test to the cloud is a great way to get your feet wet with Azure while saving money on hardware and software licenses.
Keep in mind that many firms moving to the cloud do not save as much money as they first thought; you need to effectively manage your virtual environments to make sure they only run when they are needed; you probably don’t need your dev machines running in the middle of the night. This is a common error for firms just moving to the cloud…regardless of the cloud platform.
For many businesses, the motivation for moving to Microsoft Azure is to gain more agility (pretty much wanting to do things faster and easier than you are now). Cloud-based solutions are evergreen, which means they can grow with your business. However, you need to consider whether your developers are comfortable developing solutions in the cloud before you make the transition to Azure. Developing cloud solutions is not exactly like developing on-premise applications and you need to make sure your staff know what they are doing.
Which assets can you move to the cloud? Which ones need to stay on-premises? Indeed, some assets can’t be moved to the cloud due for compliance reasons. Others might need serious re-development before they can be moved. Because of these constraints, most firms adopting cloud technologies end up creating hybrid environments.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach: A well-architected hybrid environment will seamlessly and securely blend cloud-based and on-premises resources. Just remember: While hybrid is a great approach, you need the skills to secure and manage it. Don’t start making the transition until you have the right skills to manage this kind of environment.
A transition to Microsoft Azure can be cost-effective, fast and secure – but only if you invest your time in clarifying what you want to do and why. Diving into a transition before you know what to expect from Azure (or any cloud platform) is likely to lead to delays and complications.
Meanwhile, your competitors who took the time to carefully plan their transition will be enjoying the benefits of the cloud and perhaps getting a leg up on you. So don’t be left behind; ask yourself a few key questions so you can get the most out of Azure.
Think you’re ready to make the transition to Microsoft Azure? Click here for information on our Microsoft Azure consulting services.