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Podcast Episode #17 – All About Microsoft Azure

digital workplace podcast

On this episode of the Digital Workplace Today Podcast, we talk with the one and only Dr. Dale Tuttle, COO of Portal Solutions and many time guest of the podcast, all about Microsoft Azure (and D.C. hailstorms).

We have not talked about Azure, Microsoft’s integrated cloud services platform, a whole lot on the blog or this podcast before, but be on the look out for more posts like this in the near future!

Listen to this episode to hear it all, or read the show notes for an overview of the conversation and links to some of the key items discussed.


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Kicking off with the Portal Solutions Moment of the Week


Before we get started, I’d like to talk about our Portal Solutions Moment of the Week. I would say, and Dale, see if you echo my same sentiments, that the big thing this week was the SharePoint Fest conference we participated here in Washington D.C.


Well, I think that and the hailstorm yesterday.


Yeah, they were definitely good rivals with each other.


Yeah, so SharePoint Fest was fun. We met a lot of people. Customers were there, newer customers, existing customers. As usual, it’s a lot of fun. Organizationally, we get a lot out of it, and it met expectations. The hailstorm definitely was a surprise, though.

Getting Started with Azure


Let’s get started with the show because I know we have a lot to cover in the whole Azure ecosystem. How about we tee it off like this: A lot of people are unsure of how to get started with Azure. What would your advice be to them?


The first thing to do is to take a step back and figure out what fundamental activities your organization (or self) can move to the Azure platform, and look at which of these have true business value.

One of the most common ways to get started with Azure is with development. Instead of procuring new hardware and software every time you need to do something new, you just stand up those resources in Azure. It’s much cheaper. You do it much more quickly. You get a lot of business return on investment very quickly if you offload your development activities off to Azure.


Is a separate license needed? How does someone work that out with Microsoft?


It’s based on your consumption. It’s how much Azure you’re using, so to speak. You’ll stand up several virtual machines. It might be the amount of data that you’re using. Essentially, as you create these services in Azure, you start getting charged, usually by time increment. “You used this much data over this time span.” That’s how you get charged.

How Does Azure Compare?


Let’s look at the competitors to Azure. Are people using Amazon Web Services [ed: AWS] or other services? What are the benefits of using one over the others?


AWS is probably the most common one people will use. Frankly, if you are just wanting to do development, there’s not a whole lot of difference between different platforms.

Where people should use Azure over AWS is if you’re a Microsoft shop. The Microsoft platform as a service, which is part of Azure, you know it. You understand it. All the familiarity you have with developing using Microsoft tools, they are made available to you on the Azure platform. Are they available on AWS? Yes, but not to the extent that they are in Microsoft.

The costs are going to be about the same between platforms. They all kind of converge, AWS and Azure, and even the Oracle Cloud now and Rackspace and VMware. Their Cloud costs are all coming to this convergence point. It comes down to: what are you most familiar with?

If you’re a Microsoft shop, go with Azure. It just makes your life a lot easier.

What role can and should consultants play?


Can organizations get started with this on their own, or should they look to a consultant for guidance?


They should only look to us for guidance. I mean, let’s be real here. You know, you can do it on your own. In fact, you can get free/test subscriptions to Azure.

You can, literally, play around with it. I really advocate people do that, right, and figure out kind of what it is you want to know. Only then would I suggest getting some consulting on best practices about working in Azure and development best practices. That sort of stuff. Because development is a little different in the Cloud than it is on-premises. That’s a biggie.

If you use a consultant, you’ll actually save time and money, over the long run, instead of trying to figure it out yourself. The important idea is you do it in a structured format. Don’t just start doing stuff without…


Like willy-nilly!


Right. A lot of people do it willy-nilly. That’s the technical term is that we call it. When you start doing it willy-nilly, your willy-nilliness actually becomes how things get done in the future.

You need to have a strategy in place to really take full advantage of the benefits Azure can offer.

Listen for More…

Listen to the full podcast to hear our full conversation with Dale. We discussed Azure much more in depth and addressed other some other related topics as well.



Well now it’s time for our wishlist item of the week. If there was one thing that you could wish that Microsoft would change, that would be?


I really wish there was a more cohesive bundling of Office 365 capabilities. Microsoft calls them “workloads.” They’re really separate now. In fact, one of the only ways to combine these workloads into coherent experience is something like OneWindow Workplace.


Absolutely. OneWindow is our turnkey internet solution, and yes, it pretty much rolls all of the Office 365 workloads up into a single digital window.


Yeah, a core bundle of them. There are so many, and Microsoft is adding new ones all the time. We can’t easily bundle all of them together, but at least we bring the core ones together in a single experience with custom intranets built on Office 365.


If you missed our last episode, head over and listen to our conversation with Cat Norris about the state of workflows in 2016. In the podcast prior to that, we talked with Jill Hannemann and special guest Adam Levithan about how Office 365 can benefit your organization (and is a little bit like strawberry shortcake!).


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Consider subscribing to the Digital Workplace Today podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

And if you can, take a moment to review the podcast. Your feedback is helpful, and we’d love to hear what topics you would like us to cover in future episodes.

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